The Myth of Regime Moderation

Is Iran Moderating under Hassan Rouhani?

Since the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 powers on July 14, 2015, also known as the Iran Deal, UANI has been monitoring the day-to-day actions of the Iranian regime to determine if the Iranian regime is abiding by its commitments and moderating its aggressive and threatening behavior.

A key benefit of the Iran Deal, proponents of the agreement argued, would be that it would contribute to the moderation of the Iranian regime. By tracking developments in Iran’s nuclear program, human rights situation, regional destabilizing activities, sponsorship of terrorism, and relations with the U.S., UANI’s JCPOA Accountability Tracker clearly shows that the Iranian regime has not moderated as a result of the JCPOA and has in fact adopted a more hardline approach both in its domestic and foreign policy.

To see daily Iran-related developments prior to the JCPOA, view UANI’s Rouhani Accountability Tracker.

Date Theme Event
08-25-2021
Syria Conflict

Citing images shared on the internet, several media outlets have reported that the Ethiopian National Defence Force is using Iranian-made Mohajer-6 combat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as it fights a civil war.

Citing images shared on the internet, several media outlets have reported that the Ethiopian National Defence Force is using Iranian-made Mohajer-6 combat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as it fights a civil war. Who took the photos remains unknown. However, they show the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visiting an airport with what appears to be the drone in the background. The fact-checking website Bellingcat and some open-source researchers independently geo-located the images, indicating that they were taken at the government-controlled Semara Airport. Semara is the capital city of the country’s Afar province, which abuts the Tigray region where government forces are battling the anti-government Tigray Defense Forces (TDF). (The Defense Post)

08-25-2021
Syria Conflict

Iran this week restarted fuel exports to Afghanistan that had been disrupted by fighting between the Taliban and forces under the now deposed Afghan government.

Iran this week restarted fuel exports to Afghanistan that had been disrupted by fighting between the Taliban and forces under the now deposed Afghan government, traders in Tehran and former U.S. officials say, with the Taliban now providing critical dollars to the sanctions-crushed Iranian economy from its lucrative narcotics operations. The burgeoning trade relationship between Tehran and the Taliban threatens to undermine key U.S. pressure campaigns against both. Iran has been cut off from the global market for the greenback by U.S. sanctions, and the Taliban’s willingness to trade with their neighbor gives Iran rare access to U.S. dollars it needs to import essential goods and bolster its depreciated currency. (Wall Street Journal)

08-24-2021
Human Rights

The head of Iran's prisons apologized for "bitter events" in Tehran's Evin prison after videos leaked by hackers showed beatings of prisoners, a rare admission of abuse by authorities.

The head of Iran's prisons apologised on Tuesday for "bitter events" in Tehran's Evin prison after videos leaked by hackers showed beatings of prisoners, a rare admission of abuse by authorities. A hacking group calling itself Edalat-e Ali (Ali's Justice) issued on social media videos that appear to be from the prison's surveillance cameras and show guards beating prisoners and dragging an unconscious detainee on the floor. Guards and prisoners are seen fighting among themselves in other videos. "Regarding the pictures from Evin prison, I accept responsibility for such unacceptable behaviour and pledge to try to prevent any repeat of these bitter events and to deal seriously with the wrongdoers," Mohammad Mehdi Hajmohammadi, head of Iran's prisons, wrote in a tweet reported by state media. (Reuters)

08-23-2021
Syria Conflict

A US warplane shot down an Iranian drone over eastern Syria after flying ‘too close’ to some of the 900 U.S. troops deployed there.

US warplane shot down a drone in Syria on Saturday. It is a rare occurrence when fighter jets are used to shoot down drones, although Israel has shot down drones with warplanes, and a US F-15E Strike Eagle shot down a drone in June 2017 in Syria, one of two US downings of Syrian regime drones. The latest report was made by Reuters, Fox News and Aviation Week. Reuters said the incident happened in eastern Syria when the unmanned system was deemed a threat.

“Coalition aircraft successfully engaged and defeated a US [unmanned aircraft system] through air-to-air engagement in the vicinity of Mission Support Site Green Village,” said coalition spokesperson US Army Col. Wayne Marotto, according to Reuters. Fox News Lucas Tomlinson wrote that the “US Air Force F-15E shot down Iranian drone over eastern Syria yesterday after flying ‘too close’ to some of the 900 US troops deployed there,” basing his report on US officials. (Jerusalem Post)

08-21-2021
Military

The Iranian Defense Ministry said that it was expanding its defense efforts beyond the borders of the country, in an apparent message of deterrence to Israel and the West.

The Iranian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that it was expanding its defense efforts beyond the borders of the country, in an apparent message of deterrence to Israel and the West, as hopes for a return to the 2015 nuclear deal continue to fade. “Our country has an important role to play in strengthening the resistance front and expanding the radius of defense of national security beyond the borders of the country,” the ministry said in a message for Defense Industries Day, the Moj News Agency reported. The ministry stated that Iran’s military plan includes “strengthening the defensive force and constantly updating the ability to deal with the threats of our enemies.” (Times of Israel)

08-20-2021
Human Rights

Iranian officials have reported an increase in the overall number of child marriages last year compared to 2019. According to the Statistics Center of Iran, the marriage rate of girls aged 10-14 last year increased by 10.5 percent compared to 2019.

Iranian officials have reported an increase in the overall number of child marriages last year compared to 2019. According to the Statistics Center of Iran, the marriage rate of girls aged 10-14 last year increased by 10.5 percent compared to 2019. It says 31,379 girls in that age bracket were married in 2020 compared to 28,373 cases the previous year. The legal age for marriage in Iran is 13 years for girls and 15 years for boys, though it is acceptable for children younger to be married with a father's permission. (RFE/RL)

08-19-2021
Terrorism

An Iranian Kurdish party is blaming Tehran for the killing this month of a senior party member in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

An Iranian Kurdish party is blaming Tehran for the killing this month of a senior party member in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region. Mousa Babakhani was found dead in a hotel room in Erbil on August 5, the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I) said. "With great sorrow we confirm that on the evening of Thursday, August 5, Mr Mousa Babakhani, member of Kurdistan Democratic Party’s Central Committee, was assassinated by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s terrorists in Erbil,” the party said on its website. (The National)

08-19-2021
Terrorism

Militant group Hezbollah appeared to warn Israel and the U.S. against intercepting an Iranian ship carrying fuel for Lebanon as the country reels from a crippling power crisis.

Militant group Hezbollah appeared to warn Israel and the U.S. against intercepting an Iranian ship carrying fuel for Lebanon as the country reels from a crippling power crisis. The vessel would sail “in hours,” the Iran-backed group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah was cited as saying by Al Jazeera Thursday. “I tell the Americans and the Israelis that as soon as the ship sails, it becomes Lebanese territory.” More such ships would follow, he said.  Iranian and Israeli-operated ships have in recent months been targeted in regional waters in unclaimed attacks widely believed to be tit-for-tat actions by the Middle Eastern rivals. Iran’s oil exports are under U.S. sanctions. (Bloomberg)

08-18-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has nearly doubled its enrichment capacity dedicated to purifying uranium close to the levels required for nuclear weapons, signaling it won’t de-escalate its atomic activities before meeting again with world powers.

Iran has nearly doubled its enrichment capacity dedicated to purifying uranium close to the levels required for nuclear weapons, signaling it won’t de-escalate its atomic activities before meeting again with world powers.  Inspectors verified on Aug. 15 that Iran introduced a second cascade of nuclear centrifuges to produced uranium enriched to 60% purity at a fuel plant in Natanz, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in reply to questions. The machines spin at supersonic speeds to separate the uranium isotopes needed to induce fission. Iran had originally taken that added enrichment capacity off line in April, at the start of now-stalled negotiations to bring Washington back into the deal. Its 2015 agreement with world powers had capped the activity in exchange for sanctions relief, but former U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2018 withdrawal from the accord triggered Iranian breaches. (Bloomberg)

08-16-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has made progress in its work on enriched uranium metal, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a report to member states seen by Reuters, despite Western warnings that such work threatens talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal.

Iran has made progress in its work on enriched uranium metal, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a report to member states on Monday seen by Reuters, despite Western warnings that such work threatens talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal. "On 14 August 2021, the Agency verified ... that Iran had used 257 g of uranium enriched up to 20% U-235 in the form of UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) to produce 200 g of uranium metal enriched up to 20% U-235," the International Atomic Energy Agency said, adding that this was step three in a four-step plan by Iran. The fourth includes producing a reactor fuel plate. Iran's work on enriched uranium metal has angered Europe's three top powers and the United States because that technology, and knowledge of how to produce it, can be used to make the core of a nuclear bomb. Iran insists its aims are entirely peaceful and it is developing a new type of reactor fuel. (Reuters)

08-12-2021
Military

Iranian air defenses fired a warning shot at a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper belonging to the US military near the Strait of Hormuz near the Iranian border, according to the Iranian semi-official Nour News.

Iranian air defenses fired a warning shot at a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper belonging to the US military near the Strait of Hormuz near the Iranian border on Thursday, according to the Iranian semi-official Nour News. The news outlet published what it said was footage of the control room as the warning shot was fired. Independent news source Aurora Intel discovered that the clip shared by Nour News had aired on Iranian television on Wednesday, raising questions when the incident actually took place. (Jerusalem Post)

08-11-2021
Syria Conflict

Tehran has been sending increasingly complex weapons to Yemen’s Houthi rebels even as Iranian officials have engaged in separate talks with the United States and Saudi Arabia about reducing tensions in the region, a top Pentagon official said.

Tehran has been sending increasingly complex weapons to Yemen’s Houthi rebels even as Iranian officials have engaged in separate talks with the United States and Saudi Arabia about reducing tensions in the region, a top Pentagon official said Tuesday. “In the Yemen context, we have seen more attacks from the Houthis launched at Saudi Arabia in the first half of this year than we have for several prior years,” Dana Stroul, the Pentagon’s top official for policy in the Middle East, told lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. “Iran is increasing the lethality and complexity of both the equipment and the knowledge it transfers to the Houthis so that they can attack Saudi territory [and] Saudi civilians,” Stroul told lawmakers. (Al-Monitor)

08-11-2021
Politics

Iran’s new president presented a cabinet dominated by hardliners, among them a foreign minister known for close ties to Hezbollah and an interior minister wanted by Interpol over his alleged role in the 1994 bombing.

Iran’s new president presented a cabinet dominated by hardliners on Wednesday, state TV reported, among them a foreign minister known for close ties to Hezbollah and an interior minister wanted by Interpol over his alleged role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. The conservative cleric and former judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi nominated hardline career diplomat Hossein Amirabdollahian to the crucial post of foreign minister as Iran and the US seek to resuscitate Tehran’s landmark nuclear deal with world powers. Amirabdollahian, 56, has served in a range of administrations over the decades. He was deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs under former populist hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known in the West for his Holocaust denial and disputed reelection in 2009. (Times of Israel)

08-11-2021
Human Rights

Amnesty International says Iran’s security forces have resorted to unlawful use of force to “ruthlessly” crackdown on mainly peaceful protesters who have taken to the streets across the country over the past weeks.

Amnesty International says Iran’s security forces have resorted to unlawful use of force to “ruthlessly” crackdown on mainly peaceful protesters who have taken to the streets across the country over the past weeks. Protesters, bystanders, and activists -- including children -- have been subjected to birdshot, mass arrests, enforced disappearance, torture, and other ill-treatment, the London-based human rights watchdog said in a statement on August 11. Iranian authorities “have yet again given their security forces free rein to inflict severe bodily injury on protesters to maintain their iron grip on power and crush dissent,” said Diana Eltahawy, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. (RFE/RL)

08-11-2021
Politics

Iran’s new president picked a hawkish Foreign Ministry veteran with close ties to the military elite to replace Mohammad Javad Zarif as the nation’s top diplomat.

Iran’s new president picked a hawkish Foreign Ministry veteran with close ties to the military elite to replace Mohammad Javad Zarif as the nation’s top diplomat, underscoring the shift in power that’s clouding the resumption of nuclear talks with world powers. Hossein Amirabdollahian, a fluent Arabic speaker and previously deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, was proposed for the role in a list of cabinet ministers presented to lawmakers on Wednesday by President Ebrahim Raisi. Parliament will debate the choices for a week before voting to approve or reject the nominees. Other candidates include Javad Owji as oil minister. (Bloomberg)

08-06-2021
Terrorism

The Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah fired rockets towards Israeli forces, drawing retaliatory fire from Israel into south Lebanon, in a third day of cross-border salvoes amid wider regional tensions with Iran.

The Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah fired rockets towards Israeli forces on Friday, drawing retaliatory fire from Israel into south Lebanon, in a third day of cross-border salvoes amid wider regional tensions with Iran. Suggesting its attack was calibrated to avoid further escalation, Hezbollah said it had targeted open ground near Israeli forces in retaliation for Israeli air strikes that had also struck open areas. Israel said it did not wish to escalate to a full war, though it was ready for one. (Wall Street Journal)

08-06-2021
Syria Conflict

The U.S. military said Friday that drone fragments recovered from an Israeli-linked merchant vessel damaged in a fatal attack in the Arabian Sea last week prove Iran was behind the incident.

The U.S. military said Friday that drone fragments recovered from an Israeli-linked merchant vessel damaged in a fatal attack in the Arabian Sea last week prove Iran was behind the incident. U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan, released photographs of the drone parts, and said the debris, the proximity of the strikes to Iran, and the sophistication of the attack point to Iran’s culpability. Meanwhile, the Group of Seven leading economies and the European Union also placed blame on Iran on Friday, calling it a “deliberate and targeted attack, and a clear violation of international law.” (Wall Street Journal)

08-06-2021
Terrorism

The Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah fired barrages of rockets towards Israeli forces, drawing retaliatory fire from Israel into south Lebanon, in a third day of cross-border salvoes amid wider regional tensions with Iran.

The Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah fired barrages of rockets towards Israeli forces on Friday, drawing retaliatory fire from Israel into south Lebanon, in a third day of cross-border salvoes amid wider regional tensions with Iran. Suggesting its attack was calibrated to avoid further escalation, Hezbollah said it had targeted open ground near Israeli forces in retaliation for Israeli air strikes that had also struck open areas. Israel said it did not wish to escalate to a full war, though it was ready for one. "Our understanding is that Hezbollah deliberately aimed at open areas in order not to escalate the situation," Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Amnon Shefler told reporters. (Reuters)

08-05-2021
Human Rights

Amnesty International says Iran executed a man who was 15 at the time of his arrest over a fatal stabbing and spent nearly a decade on death row.

Amnesty International says Iran this week executed a man who was 15 at the time of his arrest over a fatal stabbing and spent nearly a decade on death row. In a statement released on August 4, the London-based rights group said Sajad Sanjari was hanged on August 2 in Dizelabad prison in the western province of Kermanshah. His family learned of Sanjari’s hanging only after a prison official told them to collect the body, Amnesty said. "With the secret execution of Sajad Sanjari, the Iranian authorities have yet again demonstrated the utter cruelty of their juvenile justice system," said Diana Eltahawy, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. (RFE/RL)

08-04-2021
Syria Conflict

A tanker ship in the Gulf of Oman was seized by suspected Iranian gunmen, Western officials said.

A tanker ship in the Gulf of Oman was seized Tuesday by suspected Iranian gunmen, Western officials said, amid rising regional tensions following a fatal drone attack on another vessel that the U.S. and its allies have blamed on the Islamic Republic. The tanker was boarded near the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, according to the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations, which is affiliated with the British Defense Ministry. In a statement early Wednesday, the UKMTO said the “boarders” had left the vessel and the ship was now safe. In recent years, Iran’s Navy has often seized oil tankers it accuses of smuggling oil in its waters. But the latest incident comes on the heels of last week’s attack on an Israeli-linked tanker in the nearby Arabian Sea, which the U.S., the U.K. and Israel blamed on Iran. (Wall Street Journal)

08-04-2021
Human Rights

An Iranian Revolutionary Court has sentenced two dual nationals, German-Iranian Nahid Taghavi and British-Iranian Mehran Raouf, to more than 10 years in prison, each on national security charges, their lawyer said.

An Iranian Revolutionary Court has sentenced two dual nationals, German-Iranian Nahid Taghavi and British-Iranian Mehran Raouf, to more than 10 years in prison, each on national security charges, their lawyer said on Wednesday. Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners in recent years, mostly on espionage and security-related charges. They have accused the Islamic Republic of trying to win concessions from other countries through arrests on security charges that may have been trumped up. Tehran, which does not recognise dual nationality, say such arrests are based on its criminal code and denies holding people for political reasons. (Reuters)

08-01-2021
Syria Conflict

The United States, Britain and Israel all accused Iran of carrying out a drone attack last week on an oil tanker in the Arabian Sea that killed two people on board, raising fears of an escalating maritime war in the Middle East.

The United States, Britain and Israel on Sunday all accused Iran of carrying out a drone attack last week on an oil tanker in the Arabian Sea that killed two people on board, raising fears of an escalating maritime war in the Middle East, as Tehran denied responsibility for the strike. ­American and Israeli officials had previously said that Thursday’s attack on the Liberian-flagged Mercer Street bore the hallmarks of an operation by Iran, which has been accused of deploying attack drones in the past. The Mercer Street is managed by Zodiac Maritime, a London-based company owned by an Israeli billionaire. Those killed included a British national and a Romanian citizen, the company said. (Washington Post)

07-30-2021
Human Rights

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Iranian authorities to "immediately and unconditionally" release those detained during protests against water shortages and economic hardships in Khuzestan and other provinces.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Iranian authorities to "immediately and unconditionally" release those detained during protests against water shortages and economic hardships in Khuzestan and other provinces and to investigate the abusive use of lethal force. Demonstrations than began on July 15 in dozens of towns and cities in Khuzestan, a province with a large ethnic Arab population, later expanded to other regions of Iran, including parts of Tehran, amid the worst drought in Iran in at least 50 years that has triggered weeks of power blackouts. Thousands of workers in Iran's oil industry have also launched strikes for better wages and working conditions. (RFE/RL)

07-28-2021
Terrorism

Cybersecurity researchers said that hackers with ties to the Iranian government targeted U.S. defense contractors in attempts to install malware, including by posing as a United Kingdom-based aerobics instructor.

Cybersecurity researchers said that hackers with ties to the Iranian government targeted U.S. defense contractors in attempts to install malware, including by posing as a United Kingdom-based aerobics instructor.  Security software firm Proofpoint said in a Wednesday report that researchers had identified “a years-long social engineering and targeted malware campaign by the Iranian-state aligned threat actor TA456,” also known as “Tortoiseshell.”  The California-based cybersecurity firm said that “TA456 built a relationship across corporate and personal communication platforms with an employee of a small subsidiary of an aerospace defense contractor,” by using the social media persona "Marcella 'Marcy' Flores." (The Hill)

07-27-2021
Terrorism

Five secret documents allegedly showing Iranian plans to hack infrastructure in Western countries, including in Europe, were publicized by Sky News.

Five secret documents allegedly showing Iranian plans to hack infrastructure in Western countries, including in Europe, were publicized by Sky News late Monday night. Although there have been reports of such hacks by Iran and others in the past, it is unusual for a media organization to obtain actual internal planning documents for Unit 13, the cyber unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Some of the potential hacks the IRGC cyber group might be planning would target a cargo ship’s ballast water system, which could cause irreparable damage, according to the report. (Jerusalem Post)

07-25-2021
Human Rights

At least three people have been killed during violent protests over water shortages in Iran, according to state media.

At least three people have been killed during violent protests over water shortages in Iran, according to state media. The protests started in southwest Khuzestan province and spread to the nearby city of Aligoodarz in western Lorestan province. Authorities are blaming the deaths in Aligoordarz on "suspicious bullets shot by some unknown people who penetrated among peaceful protesters," state media said. (CNN)

07-20-2021
Nuclear Program

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said that a high-ranking committee has decided that an Iran-US agreement on the revival of the multilateral Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has to be rejected.

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said July 20 that a high-ranking committee has decided that an Iran-US agreement on the revival of the multilateral Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has to be rejected. Rabiei said the decision was made despite an "agreement in principle" that has already been reached between Iran and American negotiators, who have been indirectly discussing their return to the JCPOA during six rounds of talks in Vienna. The other JCPOA parties present in the negotiations have been China, Russia, the UK, France and Germany. The spokesman said the committee within Iran's Supreme National Security Council dismissed the new deal on the grounds of "noncompliance" with a contentious parliamentary bill. (Al-Monitor)

07-15-2021
Terrorism

Facebook said it had taken down about 200 accounts run by a group of hackers in Iran as part of a cyber-spying operation that targeted mostly U.S. military personnel and people working at defense and aerospace companies.

Facebook said on Thursday it had taken down about 200 accounts run by a group of hackers in Iran as part of a cyber-spying operation that targeted mostly U.S. military personnel and people working at defense and aerospace companies. The social media giant said the group, dubbed 'Tortoiseshell' by security experts, used fake online personas to connect with targets, build trust sometimes over the course of several months and drive them onto other sites where they were tricked into clicking malicious links that would infect their devices with spying malware. "This activity had the hallmarks of a well-resourced and persistent operation, while relying on relatively strong operational security measures to hide who's behind it," Facebook's investigations team said in a blog post. (Reuters)

07-13-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran’s outgoing president warned his country could enrich uranium at weapons-grade levels of 90% if it chose, though it still wanted to save its tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran’s outgoing president on Wednesday warned his country could enrich uranium at weapons-grade levels of 90% if it chose, though it still wanted to save its tattered nuclear deal with world powers. President Hassan Rouhani’s comments, carried by the state-run IRNA news agency, came as he also criticized Iran’s wider theocracy for not allowing his government to reach a deal soon to restore the 2015 atomic accord. Rouhani’s powers have waned as the public soured on his government amid an economy suffering under U.S. sanctions. But his remarks signal Iran could take a more belligerent approach with the West as hard-line President-elect Ebrahim Raisi is due to take office next month. (Associated Press)

07-13-2021
Terrorism

An Iranian American journalist living in Brooklyn who has been a sharp critic of the Iranian government, Masih Alinejad, was the target of an international kidnapping plot orchestrated by an intelligence network in Iran, federal prosecutors said.

An Iranian American journalist living in Brooklyn who has been a sharp critic of the Iranian government was the target of an international kidnapping plot orchestrated by an intelligence network in Iran, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. In an indictment unsealed in federal court in Manhattan, four Iranians were charged with conspiring to kidnap the journalist and author, Masih Alinejad. Ms. Alinejad was not identified by prosecutors, but confirmed in an interview that she was the intended target of the plot. Last year, Ms. Alinejad wrote in a newspaper article that Iranian government officials had unleashed a social media campaign calling for her abduction. (New York Times)

07-13-2021
Syria Conflict

A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander urged Iraqi Shi'ite militias to step up attacks on U.S. targets during a meeting in Baghdad last week, three militia sources and two Iraqi security sources familiar with the gathering said.

A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander urged Iraqi Shi'ite militias to step up attacks on U.S. targets during a meeting in Baghdad last week, three militia sources and two Iraqi security sources familiar with the gathering said. American forces in Iraq and Syria were attacked several times following the visit by an Iranian delegation led by Revolutionary Guards intelligence chief Hossein Taeb, which came after deadly U.S. air strikes against Iran-backed militias at the Syrian-Iraqi border on June 27. While encouraging retaliation, the Iranians advised the Iraqis not to go too far to avoid a big escalation, three militia sources briefed on the meeting said. (Reuters)

07-12-2021
Syria Conflict

Iraqi officials have accused Iran of reducing water flow from rivers shared by the two countries, violating international law and endangering Iraq’s agricultural sector and in some cases the populations drinking water supply.

Iraqi officials have accused Iran in recent days of reducing water flow from rivers shared by the two countries, violating international law and endangering Iraq’s agricultural sector and in some cases the populations drinking water supply. Minister of Water Resources, Mahdi Rashid Hamedani on Sunday that water flow from Iran to Iraq has completely stopped and Baghdad considers to lodge a complaint with United Nations entities for breach of international laws and inflicting damage by cutting off rivers flowing across the border. Iran was accused last year of cutting off two main tributaries flowing into Tigris River also in the peak of summer, denying much needed water for two dams in Iraq. (Iran International)

07-08-2021
Syria Conflict

Rockets landed in and around the heavily fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, which houses the U.S. Embassy, causing material damage, Iraqi security forces said.

Rockets landed in and around the heavily fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, which houses the U.S. Embassy, causing material damage early Thursday, Iraqi security forces said. Two Katuysha rockets fell near the national security building, and in an open courtyard inside the Green Zone. A third rocket fell in a nearby residential area, damaging a civilian vehicle, the statement by the Iraqi security media cell said. The attack which came shortly before daybreak followed two separate attacks on bases housing U.S. troops in western Iraq and across the border in Syria, where U.S-led coalition forces are based. The drone attack Wednesday in eastern Syria was foiled while 14 rockets landed in Al-Assad Air Base in western Iraq, lightly wounding two personnel. (Associated Press)

07-07-2021
Human Rights

Iran imprisoned a journalist for reporting on the true extent of the country's COVID-19 outbreak, according to free-press watchdogs.

Iran imprisoned a journalist for reporting on the true extent of the country's COVID-19 outbreak, according to free-press watchdogs. Shahram Safari, a Kurdish freelance reporter, was sentenced to three months in prison on June 16 by a municipal court in Kermanshah, western Iran, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency. Safari ran the local news Telegram channel, "Rawezh Press," in which he documented the number of COVID-19 cases in Iran, HRANA said. (Yahoo News)

07-04-2021
Syria Conflict

Israeli security officials said Iran is likely behind an alleged attack on a cargo ship in the northern Indian Ocean, Arabic TV stations reported Sunday, with the vessel having been hit by an "unknown weapon" which started a fire.

Israeli security officials said Iran is likely behind an alleged attack on a cargo ship in the northern Indian Ocean, Arabic TV stations reported Sunday, with the vessel having been hit by an "unknown weapon" which started a fire. The Al-Mayadeen Lebanese television channel reported early Sunday that the Liberian-flagged cargo ship, the Tyndall, was damaged this weekend in the wake of a series of sabotage incidents between Israeli and Iranian ships in the region. Although some outlets initially reported that the cargo ship was owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer, sources later confirmed that it had been recently sold and the crew was not from Israel. The ship currently flies the Liberian flag, and defense officials from several countries in the region are still investigating the Sunday incident. (Newsweek)

07-02-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran plans to prevent inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog reviewing video footage of some nuclear sites until there is an agreement to salvage the Iran nuclear deal, a senior Iranian official told CNN.

Iran plans to prevent inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog reviewing video footage of some nuclear sites until there is an agreement to salvage the Iran nuclear deal, a senior Iranian official told CNN. The decision puts pressure on talks taking place in Vienna which are seeking to bring the US and Iran back into compliance with the 2015 deal. "If the talks succeed Iran will surely show the tapes to the IAEA," the official said. "Sharing the tapes depends on the way that the negotiations will proceed. The key to the question is the agreement. If they agree on something that will open the door for cooperation and better understanding including in the area of transparency." (CNN)

07-01-2021
Politics

Iran’s supreme leader promoted a hardline cleric to serve as head of the judiciary on Thursday, amid international calls for investigations into allegations of abuses.

Iran’s supreme leader promoted a hardline cleric to serve as head of the judiciary on Thursday, amid international calls for investigations into allegations of abuses. Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, now the judiciary's deputy head, will replace Ebrahim Raisi, who takes office in August as president after winning a June 18 election. Ejei was put on U.S. and EU sanctions blacklists a decade ago for his role in a crackdown on a popular uprising when he served as intelligence minister during a disputed election. (Reuters)

07-01-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has been restricting U.N. nuclear inspectors' access to its main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, citing security concerns after what it says was an attack on the site by Israel in April, diplomats say.

Iran has been restricting U.N. nuclear inspectors' access to its main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, citing security concerns after what it says was an attack on the site by Israel in April, diplomats say. The standoff, which one official said has been going on for weeks, is in the course of being resolved, diplomats said, but it has also raised tensions with the West just as indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the Iran nuclear deal have adjourned without a date set for their resumption. It follows various moves by Iran that breach the 2015 nuclear deal or have angered Washington and its allies, ranging from enriching uranium to close to weapons-grade to failing to explain the origin of uranium particles that the U.N. nuclear watchdog found at several undeclared sites. (Reuters)

06-29-2021
Human Rights

Three Christians from the Church of Iran denomination have each been sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of "engaging in propaganda against the Islamic regime" and fined four million Rials ($95).

Three Christians from the Church of Iran denomination have each been sentenced to five years in prison and fined four million Rials ($95) on Saturday. They were sentenced by the Revolutionary Court in Karaj, in the area of northern Iran, after being convicted of "engaging in propaganda against the Islamic regime." The three men, named as Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi, are all appealing their sentences. They were charged with “sectarian activities” during the trial, valid under a new amendment to the Iranian penal code. (Jerusalem Post)

06-25-2021
Human Rights

The BBC has complained to the UN about Iran's harassment of staff at the BBC Persian service.

The BBC has complained to the UN about Iran's harassment of staff at the BBC Persian service. It says Iranian intelligence agents have threatened to kidnap London staff and take them to Iran. This is not the first time the BBC has taken the rare step of appealing to the UN for their safety. Iran has previously denied the allegations, and accused BBC Persian of spreading false information to encourage its government's overthrow. (BBC)

06-23-2021
Human Rights

Rights groups have called on Iran to halt the execution of a man for a murder committed while he was still a child.

Rights groups have called on Iran to halt the execution of a man for a murder committed while he was still a child. Hossein Shahbazi is due to be hanged on Monday following the death of a teenager during a group fight when he was 17. He would be the first person to be executed this year in Iran after committing a crime as a minor, according to Amnesty International. (The National)

06-21-2021
Extremism

Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi said the Islamic Republic wouldn’t stop supporting Shiite militia groups fighting across the Middle East or rein in its missile program.

Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi on Monday said the Islamic Republic wouldn’t stop supporting Shiite militia groups fighting across the Middle East or rein in its missile program, rebuffing a key goal of the Biden administration as it negotiates a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal. President Biden has said he wants any fresh agreement on Iran’s nuclear activities to lead to broader discussions on how to reduce its military footprint in the Middle East. But in his first press conference in Tehran after winning Friday’s election, Mr. Raisi ruled out such an approach. “Regional and missile issues are not negotiable,” said the 60-year-old senior cleric. (Wall Street Journal)

06-20-2021
Politics

Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief won a landslide victory in the country’s presidential election, a vote that both propelled the supreme leader’s protege into Tehran’s highest civilian position and saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history.

Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief won a landslide victory in the country’s presidential election, a vote that both propelled the supreme leader’s protege into Tehran’s highest civilian position and saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history. The election of Ebrahim Raisi, already sanctioned by the U.S. in part over his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, became more of a coronation after his strongest competition found themselves disqualified from running in Saturday’s vote. That sparked calls for a boycott and many apparently did stay home — out of over 59 million eligible voters, only 28.9 million voted. Of those voting, some 3.7 million people either accidentally or intentionally voided their ballots, far beyond the amount seen in previous elections and suggesting some wanted none of the four candidates. (AP)

06-17-2021
Military

The Iranian navy ships believed to be originally headed toward Venezuela changed course early this week and are now steaming north up the west coast of Africa, U.S. officials said.

The Iranian navy ships believed to be originally headed toward Venezuela changed course early this week and are now steaming north up the west coast of Africa, U.S. officials said. The ships, which U.S. officials believe may have been preparing to conduct an arms transfer, have appeared to change course several times during their journey from Iran — and could do so again. But after the course change early this week, they are likely now headed either into the Mediterranean — potentially planning to sail off of Syria — or north toward Russia, according to a defense official briefed on the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive subject. U.S. officials believe the course change indicates that a diplomatic campaign to urge governments in the Western Hemisphere to turn away the ships was successful, the official said. The Iranian frigate Sahand and afloat staging base Makran charted a new course after Biden administration officials publicly and privately urged the governments of Venezuela, Cuba and other countries in the region not to allow them to dock, POLITICO reported. (Politico)

06-15-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has made 6.5 kg (14 lb) of uranium enriched to up to 60%, the government said on Tuesday, detailing a move that rattled the country's nuclear talks with world powers by taking the fissile material a step towards nuclear weapons-grade of 90%.

Iran has made 6.5 kg (14 lb) of uranium enriched to up to 60%, the government said on Tuesday, detailing a move that rattled the country's nuclear talks with world powers by taking the fissile material a step towards nuclear weapons-grade of 90%. Government spokesman Ali Rabiei was quoted by state media as saying the country had also produced 108 kg of uranium enriched to 20% purity, indicating quicker output than the rate required by the Iranian law that created the process. Iran said in April it would begin enriching uranium to 60% purity, a move that would take the uranium much closer to the 90% suitable for a nuclear bomb, after Tehran accused arch-foe Israel of sabotaging a key nuclear site. (Asharq al-Awsat)

06-15-2021
Nuclear Program

Germany’s federal intelligence agency released a report detailing security threats faced by the federal republic in 2020, including Iran’s drive to obtain illicit technology for its nuclear weapons program.

Germany’s federal intelligence agency on Tuesday released a report detailing security threats faced by the federal republic in 2020, ranging from Iran’s drive to obtain illicit technology for its nuclear weapons program to its increased attempts to secure material for its missile program. The report revealed a significant increase in membership and support for Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah, who are active in Germany. The Jerusalem Post examined the 420-page German-language report for The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution—the formal name for the national intelligence agency. According to the report, “the indications of proliferation-relevant procurement attempts by the Islamic Republic for its nuclear program increased in 2020.” (Jerusalem Post)

06-14-2021
Syria Conflict

Iran-backed militias in Iraq have revealed a collection of long-range drones that could hit other countries in the region, including Israel.

Iran-backed militias in Iraq have revealed a collection of long-range drones that could hit other countries in the region, including Israel. On Sunday, video footage emerged of Iraqi groups in the Popular Mobilisation Forces, an umbrella organisation of militias, parading an array of apparently new unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. Most PMF groups are trained, advised and equipped by Iran, although they have formal status in Iraq's armed forces. (The National)

06-10-2021
Military

An Iranian destroyer and support vessel are now sailing in the Atlantic Ocean in a rare mission far from the Islamic Republic, Iran's state TV reported, without offering the vessels’ final destination.

An Iranian destroyer and support vessel are now sailing in the Atlantic Ocean in a rare mission far from the Islamic Republic, Iran's state TV reported on Thursday, without offering the vessels’ final destination. The trip by the new domestically built destroyer Sahand and the intelligence-gathering vessel Makran comes amid U.S. media reports, citing anonymous American officials, saying the ships were bound for Venezuela. The Associated Press could not immediately confirm the ships' destination. The vessels departed last month from Iran’s southern port of Bandar Abbas, said Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, Iran's deputy army chief. He described their mission as the Iranian navy's longest and most challenging voyage yet, without elaborating. (ABC News)

06-10-2021
Military

Russia is preparing to supply Iran with an advanced satellite system that will give Tehran an unprecedented ability to track potential military targets across the Middle East and beyond.

Russia is preparing to supply Iran with an advanced satellite system that will give Tehran an unprecedented ability to track potential military targets across the Middle East and beyond, according to current and former U.S. and Middle Eastern officials briefed on details of the arrangement. The plan would deliver to the Iranians a Russian-made Kanopus-V satellite equipped with a high-resolution camera that would greatly enhance Iran’s spying capabilities, allowing continuous monitoring of facilities ranging from Persian Gulf oil refineries and Israeli military bases to Iraqi barracks that house U.S. troops, the officials said. The launch could happen within months, they said. While the Kanopus-V is marketed for civilian use, Iranian military officials have been heavily involved in the acquisition, and leaders of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have made multiple trips to Russia since 2018 to help negotiate the terms of the agreement, the officials said. (Washington Post)

06-09-2021
Syria Conflict

Iraq's government suffered an embarrassment after a rare move to limit impunity among Iran-linked militias instead resulted in a commander accused of several killings walking free from custody and into a hero's welcome.

Iraq's government suffered an embarrassment Wednesday after a rare move to limit impunity among Iran-linked militias instead resulted in a commander accused of several killings walking free from custody and into a hero's welcome. Although Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government issued no statement about the May 26 arrest of Qasim Musleh, a militia commander from the southern city of Karbala, the fallout from it has dominated news broadcasts and underscored the administration’s weakness as militias kill and intimidate members of a protest movement that brought Kadhimi to power. The arrest had sparked immediate controversy. Iran-linked militiamen arrived at the gates of Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone within hours. The army was deployed. That standoff ended only when one of Kadhimi’s predecessors and political foes, Nouri al-Maliki, stepped in to defuse tensions, officials say. (Washington Post)

06-08-2021
Human Rights

A man serving a five-year jail sentence on political charges in Iran has died in custody, activists said, accusing the authorities of contributing to his death by neglecting his medical conditions.

A man serving a five-year jail sentence on political charges in Iran has died in custody, activists said, accusing the authorities of contributing to his death by neglecting his medical conditions. Sasan Niknafs had since July 2020 been serving a sentence on charges including disseminating “propaganda” against the state and Iran’s leadership, the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) and Oslo-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) said in separate statements late Monday. Both said that they held the head of the Iranian judiciary Ebrahim Raisi responsible for his death, the cause of which was not specified. (AFP)

06-07-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has failed to answer questions about the discovery of uranium particles at former undeclared sites in the country, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said, calling on Tehran to provide information “without further delay.”

Iran has failed to answer questions about the discovery of uranium particles at former undeclared sites in the country, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Monday, calling on Tehran to provide information “without further delay.” Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been pushing Iran for answers on three sites dating back many years where inspections had revealed traces of uranium of man-made origin, suggesting they were once connected to Iran’s nuclear program. The issue is separate from the ongoing negotiations aimed at bringing the United States back into Iran's 2015 nuclear accord with world powers. (AP)

06-02-2021
Terrorism

The Iranian regime has reportedly begun to restock its Islamist proxy in the Gaza Strip - Hamas, which entirely controls the enclave - with the resources to produce thousands of new rockets.

The Iranian regime has reportedly begun to restock its Islamist proxy in the Gaza Strip - Hamas, which entirely controls the enclave - with the resources to produce thousands of new rockets, according to a report on Tehran state TV. In the recent 11-day conflict, which ended last month and for which a fragile Egyptian-brokered ceasefire still holds, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired more than 4,300 rockets toward Israel's population centers. For nearly two weeks, Israel's citizens were forced to sporadically seek refuge in bomb shelters as terrorists fired rockets indiscriminately. "With the end of the Israeli regime’s latest aggression, the Palestinian resistance has resumed the process of rocket production," Fathi Hamad, a member of Hamas’ politburo, was quoted as saying over the Memorial Day weekend by Iran’s state-run Fars News Agency, reported The Washington Free Beacon. (i24 News)

05-31-2021
Nuclear Program

The United Nations' atomic watchdog hasn't been able to access data important to monitoring Iran's nuclear program since late February when the Islamic Republic started restricting international inspections of its facilities, the agency said.

The United Nations' atomic watchdog hasn't been able to access data important to monitoring Iran's nuclear program since late February when the Islamic Republic started restricting international inspections of its facilities, the agency said Monday. In its May 31 report, obtained by CBS News, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that it has "not had access" to several key pieces of information since February 23. These include data on Iran's stockpiles and production of heavy water, "the data and recordings collected" by equipment designed to monitor centrifuges and "the data from [the Agency's] online enrichment monitors and electronic seals" as well as "the measurement recordings registered by its installed measurement devices."  Since February, although the IAEA had access to relevant buildings at Iran's Fordow and Natanz nuclear sites, "it has not been able to perform daily access upon request," the report said. The most troubling point in the report is that the international watchdog agency has been unable to verify what Iran is doing at some of the sites. (AP)

05-31-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has failed to explain traces of uranium found at several undeclared sites, a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog showed possibly setting up a fresh diplomatic clash between Tehran and the West that could derail wider nuclear talks.

Iran has failed to explain traces of uranium found at several undeclared sites, a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog showed on Monday, possibly setting up a fresh diplomatic clash between Tehran and the West that could derail wider nuclear talks. Three months ago Britain, France and Germany scrapped a U.S.-backed plan for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors to criticise Iran for failing to fully explain the origin of the particles; the three backed off as IAEA chief Rafael Grossi announced fresh talks with Iran. "After many months, Iran has not provided the necessary explanation for the presence of the nuclear material particles at any of the three locations where the Agency has conducted complementary accesses (inspections)," a report by Grossi to member states seen by Reuters said. (Reuters)

05-29-2021
Syria Conflict

U.S. military officials in Iraq have grown increasingly alarmed over attacks by Iran-backed militias using drones to evade detection systems around military bases and diplomatic facilities.

U.S. military officials in Iraq have grown increasingly alarmed over attacks by Iran-backed militias using drones to evade detection systems around military bases and diplomatic facilities. In place of rockets, militiamen have turned at times to small, fixed-wing drones that fly too low to be picked up by defensive systems, military officials and diplomats say. An official with the U.S.-led coalition described the evolving drone threat as the military mission’s biggest concern in Iraq. In April, a drone strike targeted a CIA hangar inside the airport complex in the northern city of Irbil, according to officials familiar with the matter. The drone’s flight was tracked to within 10 miles of the site, but its path was then lost as it moved into a civilian flight path, the coalition official said. (Washington Post)

05-27-2021
Terrorism

Hamas’s chief in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar has said his organization has sufficient financial resources mostly provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran and will not touch aid money sent for reconstruction.

Hamas’s chief in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar has said his organization has sufficient financial resources mostly provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran and will not touch aid money sent for reconstruction. Palestinian groups in Gaza and Iranian officials more openly admit the degree of Iran’s support in providing arms, weapons know-how, training and cash to enable militants to fire rockets and missiles at Israel, after a ten-day-long military confrontation earlier this month. Militants fired thousands of projectiles at civilian targets in Israel. Sinwar said, “We have sufficient financial resources… a large part of which are from Iran, and another part comes from Arab and Muslim donors and free people of the world who stand in solidarity with our people and their rights.” (Iran International)

05-27-2021
Syria Conflict

After Iraqi government forces arrested a paramilitary commander, Iraqi militias backed by Iran mounted a show of force in and around the heavily guarded Green Zone in Baghdad, in a confrontation that goes to the heart of who controls security in Iraq.

Iraq’s leader has been under intense pressure to rein in the dozens of paramilitary groups that are nominally under the command of the Iraqi government but have proved seemingly impossible for him to control. That was made abundantly clear this week, when Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered a move against one militia leader and quickly paid a price. After government forces arrested a paramilitary commander on Wednesday, Iraqi militias backed by Iran mounted a show of force in and around the heavily guarded Green Zone in Baghdad, in a confrontation that goes to the heart of who controls security in Iraq. (New York Times)

05-27-2021
Politics

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei endorsed the rejection of heavyweight moderate and conservative candidates for Iran's June presidential election, in which two leading hardliners fiercely loyal to him will stand against each other.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday endorsed the rejection of heavyweight moderate and conservative candidates for Iran's June presidential election, in which two leading hardliners fiercely loyal to him will stand against each other. The Guardian Council, a hardline vetting body that approves candidates, has qualified just seven of the 590 candidates for the June 18 election, including hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi and former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. "The honorable Guardian Council, in accordance with its duty, did what it had to do and what it deemed necessary to do and identified the candidates," Khamenei said, according to state television. (Reuters)

05-27-2021
Human Rights

Iranian authorities waged a campaign of harassment and abuse against the families of people who died in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s (IRGC) downing of a Ukrainian airliner in January last year.

Iranian authorities waged a campaign of harassment and abuse against the families of people who died in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s (IRGC) downing of a Ukrainian airliner in January last year, Human Rights Watch claimed on Thursday. The organization spoke to 31 family members of victims and those with direct knowledge of the authorities’ treatment of the families between October, and January this year. It said: “Iran’s security agencies had arbitrarily detained, summoned, abusively interrogated, tortured, and otherwise mistreated victims’ family members.” (Arab News)

05-26-2021
Nuclear Program

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog has warned that Iran is enriching uranium at purity levels that “only countries making bombs are reaching”.

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog has warned that Iran is enriching uranium at purity levels that “only countries making bombs are reaching”. Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the Financial Times the situation was “very concerning” as Iran’s nuclear programme had become more sophisticated over the past two years. (Financial Times)

05-25-2021
Politics

Iran’s electoral body disqualified dozens of candidates for the country’s June presidential election, including nearly all moderates and reformists.

Iran’s electoral body disqualified dozens of candidates for the country’s June presidential election, including nearly all moderates and reformists, a step that narrows the spectrum for political participation at a time when the Islamic Republic faces growing domestic discontent. The culling of candidates near the center of Iranian politics helps smooth a path to victory for Ebrahim Raisi, a leading hard-line cleric who was defeated in the 2017 election. Analysts warn the move risks reducing voter turnout and further diminishing the popularity of a clerical-led system that has suppressed repeated bouts of political and economic unrest. “It seems the hard-liners’ plan to fully monopolize power in their hands very much overshadows any desire to present elections in the Islamic Republic as proof of the system’s legitimacy,” said Ali Fathollah-Nejad, a scholar affiliated with Freie Universität Berlin. (Wall Street Journal)

05-23-2021
Extremism

The leadership of Iran, engaged in a long shadow war with Israel on land, air and sea, did not try to conceal the pleasure it took in the most recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The leadership of Iran, engaged in a long shadow war with Israel on land, air and sea, did not try to conceal the pleasure it took in the most recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Over the 11 days of fighting this month, Tehran praised the damage being done to its enemy, and the state news media and conservative commentators highlighted Iran’s role in providing weaponry and military training to Palestinian militants in Gaza to hammer Israeli communities. Iran has for decades supported Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza and whose own interests in battling Israel align with Iran’s. Experts say that over the years, Iran has provided Hamas with financial and political support, weapons and technology and training to build its own arsenal of advanced rockets that can reach deep into Israeli territory. (New York Times)

05-21-2021
Military

Iran displayed a home-built combat drone that it said had a range of 2,000 km (1,250 miles), naming it "Gaza" in honour of the Palestinians' struggle against Israel.

Iran displayed a home-built combat drone that it said had a range of 2,000 km (1,250 miles), naming it "Gaza" in honour of the Palestinians' struggle against Israel, state media reported. Iran has a large missile and drone programme, regarding such weapons as an important deterrent and retaliatory force against the United States and other adversaries in the event of war. The West sees Iran's missiles both as a conventional military threat to regional stability and a possible delivery mechanism for nuclear weapons should Tehran develop them. Iran denies trying to build nuclear arms. (Reuters)

05-21-2021
Syria Conflict

Iran has hand-picked hundreds of trusted fighters from among the cadres of its most powerful militia allies in Iraq, forming smaller, elite and fiercely loyal factions in a shift away from relying on large groups with which it once exerted influence.

Iran has hand-picked hundreds of trusted fighters from among the cadres of its most powerful militia allies in Iraq, forming smaller, elite and fiercely loyal factions in a shift away from relying on large groups with which it once exerted influence. The new covert groups were trained last year in drone warfare, surveillance and online propaganda and answer directly to officers in Iran's Quds Force, the arm of its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) that controls its allied militia abroad. They have been responsible for a series of increasingly sophisticated attacks against the United States and its allies, according to accounts by Iraqi security officials, militia commanders and Western diplomatic and military sources. (Reuters)

05-20-2021
Extremism

The commander of Iran’s IRGC-Corps Quds Force Brig.-Gen. Esmail Qaani sent a letter to Mohammed Deif, the supreme commander of Hamas’s military wing, Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, in which he pledged that Tehran would not abandon the Palestinians.

As Israel and Hamas were reported on Thursday to be close to reaching a ceasefire agreement, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force Brig.-Gen. Esmail Qaani sent a letter to Mohammed Deif, the supreme commander of Hamas’s military wing, Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, in which he pledged that Tehran would not abandon the Palestinians. The latest round of fighting with Israel, Qaani said, “has opened a new era in the conflict with the Zionist enemy.” Qaani praised Hamas and the Gaza-based terrorist groups for engaging in a “great battle that once again proved the weakness of the enemy.” (Jerusalem Post)

05-20-2021
Terrorism

Ontario's Superior Court of Justice has ruled that the shooting down of Flight PS752 by Iran was an intentional act of terrorism.

Ontario's Superior Court of Justice has ruled that the shooting down of Flight PS752 by Iran was an intentional act of terrorism. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight with two surface-to-air missiles shortly after takeoff in Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020, killing all 176 passengers onboard. There were 138 passengers onboard with ties to Canada, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents. "The plaintiffs have established that the shooting down of Flight 752 by the defendants was an act of terrorism and constitutes 'terrorist activity'..."Justice Edward Belobaba wrote in his decision issued Thursday. (CBC)

05-20-2021
Terrorism

Over the past 10 days, Palestinian militants have unleashed one of the most intense attacks on Israel in decades, firing more than 4,000 short-range rockets and deploying a new, explosive drone intended to evade the country’s Iron Dome air-defense system.

Over the past 10 days, Palestinian militants have unleashed one of the most intense attacks on Israel in decades, firing more than 4,000 short-range rockets and deploying a new, explosive drone intended to evade the country’s Iron Dome air-defense system. Behind this onslaught, defense officials in Israel and security analysts say, is an extensive arsenal built with technical expertise from Iran and growing local skills in arms manufacturing. Israeli military leaders say they have destroyed more than two dozen missile-building factories in Gaza with airstrikes in recent days. But they estimate that the militants still have thousands of rockets left and the technical capacity to begin building more when the fighting stops. (Wall Street Journal)

05-19-2021
Human Rights

A British-Iranian labour activist arrested in Iran faces a minimum 10-year jail term after being accused of being the leader of a communist cell, his supporters have learned.

A British-Iranian labour activist arrested in Iran faces a minimum 10-year jail term after being accused of being the leader of a communist cell, his supporters have learned. Mehran Raoof, 64, has been held in solitary confinement at Tehran’s Evin jail since he was detained in October last year, along with other labour and human rights activists who gathered in a Tehran café. He has only been seen once by his lawyer at a hearing last month when he was accused of unspecified security offences, but a 200-page file seen by his legal team now accuses him of being the leader of a banned communist group. (The National)

05-14-2021
Extremism

A group of pro-Iran Twitter accounts flooded the platform with "massive surges of unmitigated antisemitism" and disinformation, enough to get it trending, as Israel stepped up military strikes against the Tehran-backed Hamas terrorists in Gaza responsible

A group of pro-Iran Twitter accounts flooded the platform with "massive surges of unmitigated antisemitism" and disinformation, enough to get it trending, as Israel stepped up military strikes against the Tehran-backed Hamas terrorists in Gaza responsible for launching hundreds of rockets at civilian targets this week, according to a nonprofit, politically neutral research institution. The Network Contagion Research Institute, or NCRI, has unveiled its findings, showing a coordinated effort to push hateful content that called for "Death to Israel" and claimed "Hitler was right." "What you have are enemy regimes that are utilizing the means of open discourse, free speech, in order to undermine democracy, even as they're funding terrorist organizations that are attacking democracy," Joel Finkelstein, the NCRI’s director and co-founder, told Fox News Friday. (Fox Business)

05-12-2021
Terrorism

Berlin security services say Iranian hackers were behind a cyber attack that targeted German companies by duping their employees into installing malware.

Berlin security services say Iranian hackers were behind a cyber attack that targeted German companies by duping their employees into installing malware. The attack was part of a wider effort by Iranian operatives to gain access to sensitive information in Germany, an intelligence report said. In the latest breach, workers at German companies received phishing emails that purported to be messages offering them a job.  When they clicked on the corresponding links, they unwittingly installed malware on their computer. (The National)

05-12-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has enriched uranium to slightly higher purity than previously thought due to “fluctuations” in the process, the United Nations’ atomic watchdog said.

Iran has enriched uranium to slightly higher purity than previously thought due to “fluctuations” in the process, the United Nations’ atomic watchdog said Wednesday. The report underscores the challenges diplomats face in ongoing talks, that began in April, to bring the United States back into the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, which is supported by U.S. President Joe Biden. The initial announcement from Iran that it would start enriching to 60% — which is not yet weapon’s grade but its highest purity yet — came just as the talks were to begin in Vienna. International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi reported to member agencies on Tuesday that the latest inspections confirmed Iran continues to enrich uranium at up to 60% purity in its Natanz plant. (AP)

05-11-2021
Extremism

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Palestinians to build up their fighting power to stop Israel's "brutality", saying Israelis "only understand the language of force", Iran's state TV reported.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Palestinians on Tuesday to build up their fighting power to stop Israel's "brutality", saying Israelis "only understand the language of force", Iran's state TV reported. "Zionists understand nothing but the language of force, so the Palestinians must increase their power and resistance to force the criminals to surrender and stop their brutal acts," Ayatollah Khamenei said. Israel intensified its air strikes on Gaza on Tuesday as rocket barrages hit Israeli towns for a second day in a deepening conflict in which at least 28 people in the Palestinian enclave and two in Israel have been killed. (Reuters)

05-10-2021
Military

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter fired about 30 warning shots after Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats came close to U.S. Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz, the Defense Department said.

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter fired about 30 warning shots after Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats came close to U.S. Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz, the Defense Department said Monday. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the Coast Guard cutter Maui fired two volleys from a .50-caliber machine gun Monday when two Revolutionary Guard fast boats "operated in an unsafe and unprofessional manner in close proximity" to six U.S. vessels, including the submarine USS Georgia. Two Revolutionary Guard speedboats broke away from a group of 13, according to the Pentagon, and went to the opposite side of the U.S. formation. They approached Maui and a Navy ship, the USS Squall, at more than 32 knots with their weapons uncovered and manned. (NBC News)

05-09-2021
Syria Conflict

The U.S. Navy announced it seized an arms shipment of thousands of assault weapons, machines guns and sniper rifles hidden aboard a ship in the Arabian Sea, apparently bound for Yemen to support the country's Houthi rebels.

The U.S. Navy announced Sunday it seized an arms shipment of thousands of assault weapons, machines guns and sniper rifles hidden aboard a ship in the Arabian Sea, apparently bound for Yemen to support the country's Houthi rebels. An American defense official told The Associated Press that the Navy's initial investigation found the vessel came from Iran, again tying the Islamic Republic to arming the Houthis despite a United Nations arms embargo. Iran's mission to the U.N. did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though Tehran has denied in the past giving the rebels weapons. The seizure, one of several amid the yearslong war in Yemen, comes as the U.S. and others try to end a conflict that spawned one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters. The arms shipment, described as sizeable, shows that the war may still have far to run. (AP)

05-07-2021
Extremism

Iran's Supreme Leader called on Muslim nations to keep fighting against Israel, which he said was not a state but a "terrorist garrison" against the Palestinians.

Iran's Supreme Leader called on Muslim nations on Friday to keep fighting against Israel, which he said was not a state but a "terrorist garrison" against the Palestinians. "The fight against this despotic regime is the fight against oppression and the fight against terrorism. And this is a public duty to fight against this regime," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech. Khamenei was speaking on Iran's annual Quds Day, which uses the Arabic name for Jerusalem, held on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. (Reuters)

05-07-2021
Nuclear Program

An intelligence report from Germany disclosed detailed information about secretive methods which the Islamic Republic of Iran uses to cover up its attempts to secure illicit technology for the world’s most deadly weapons.

A new intelligence report from Germany’s northernmost state Schleswig-Holstein disclosed detailed information on Tuesday about the secretive methods which the Islamic Republic of Iran uses to cover up its attempts to secure illicit technology for the world’s most deadly weapons. “Proliferation-relevant countries such as Iran, North Korea and Syria, but also Pakistan, try to circumvent safety precautions and legal export regulations and to disguise illegal procurement activities. To do this, they turn to mostly conspiratorial means and methods,” wrote the intelligence agency. … The Iranian regime’s methods to obtain illicit weapons of mass destruction technology, according to the intelligence report, include “The creation of a neutral firm to deceive the buyer about the true nature of the sale through a state-controlled company; the establishment of illegal procurement networks which belong to the front companies and middlemen.” (Jerusalem Post)

05-06-2021
Syria Conflict

Iran’s Quds Force commander, Hassan Erlo, is acting as de facto ruler of areas controlled by the Houthi militia, a senior Yemeni official has said.

Iran’s Quds Force commander, Hassan Erlo, is acting as de facto ruler of areas controlled by the Houthi militia, a senior Yemeni official has said. Erlo’s movements are highlighted by the Houthis’ media outfit, which confirms that he is acting as a leader, Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s minister of information, culture and tourism, said on Wednesday. Eryani was quoted by state news agency SABA as saying that the Quds Force commander’s actions show that the Houthi leadership takes political, military and administrative orders from the Tehran regime. (Arab News)

05-06-2021
Extremism

"Israel could be blown up in a single operation," said the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami.

"Israel could be blown up in a single operation," said the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami. Known for his harsh anti-Israeli rhetoric, Salami downplayed the Jewish state's defenses as a security "bulb" that has been "burst" following a series of recent incidents. The Iranian commander enumerated Israel's "vulnerabilities" in "domino-style" attacks, for which he suggested the Islamic Republic's responsibility. Salami referred to a powerful explosion at an Israeli plant for advanced weapons April 21. Israeli media, however, have reported that the blast took place during a routine test and left no casualties. The general included in his list the explosion at a big refinery in the city of Haifa, which Israeli officials described as a "fire" that they quickly contained. (Al-Monitor)

05-06-2021
Politics

Iran's election-vetting body has spelt out conditions for running in the presidential poll, potentially barring several high-profile candidates.

Iran's election-vetting body has spelt out conditions for running in next month's presidential poll, potentially barring several high-profile candidates, local media reported Thursday. The conservative-dominated Guardian Council complained earlier this week of the "unpleasant situation" that allowed would-be candidates lacking basic requirements to register to run in the election held every four years. Under the Islamic republic's constitution, candidates for the presidency require vague qualifications such as being among "political and religious" figures. (AFP)

05-05-2021
Nuclear Program

A report authored by the Netherlands' General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) asserts that the Islamic Republic of Iran attempted to obtain technology in 2020 for weapons of mass destruction.

A damning new report authored by the Netherlands' General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) asserts that the Islamic Republic of Iran attempted to obtain technology in 2020 for weapons of mass destruction. The Dutch intelligence document, which was published in April, says the security service "investigated networks that tried to obtain the knowledge and materials to develop weapons of mass destruction. Multiple acquisition attempts have been frustrated by the intervention of the services.” According to the Dutch report, "The joint Counter-Proliferation Unit [UCP] of the AIVD and the MIVD [the country’s Military Intelligence and Security Service] is investigating how countries try to obtain the knowledge and goods they need to make weapons of mass destruction. Countries such as Syria, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea also tried to acquire such goods and technology in Europe and the Netherlands last year." (Jerusalem Post)

05-05-2021
Syria Conflict

Two rockets landed at Ain al-Asad air base in western Iraq, the third such attack in three days, representing an increase in pro-Iranian rocket attacks on US forces in Iraq.

On Tuesday two rockets landed at Ain al-Asad air base in western Iraq. On Monday three to six rockets fell near Balad air base in Iraq, according to various reports. The base houses US contractors and has been targeted numerous times in the past by pro-Iranian militias targeting Americans. This appears to be the third attack in three days, representing an increase in pro-Iranian rocket attacks on US forces in Iraq. The attackers frequently use 107-mm. rockets supplied by Iran, although they have also used drones in a new escalation. The attacks are designed to provide Iran leverage, to harass the US and to create plausible deniability for Iran. (Jerusalem Post)

05-05-2021
Military

Analysis of satellite imagery obtained by the International Institute for Strategic Studies revealed the construction of a new set of seven silos storing advanced new missiles in southern Iran.

Analysis of satellite imagery obtained by the International Institute for Strategic Studies revealed the construction of a new set of seven silos storing advanced new missiles in southern Iran. Defence analysts at the IISS told The National the storage facility is placed on a steep mountainside and is designed to hold dozens of the weapons at a particular slant, for precision targeting of the missiles. A missile being fired by Iran during testing of a new generation of cruise missiles in June 2020, capable of hitting targets at a distance of 280 kilometres. The imagery given to The National shows the bank of launch sites set into mountainous terrain close to the southern Iranian town of Haji Abad. The steep mountainside and particular slant of the seven silos strongly point to a limited direction that would cause concern for military airbases in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. (The National)

05-04-2021
Human Rights

Six United Nations rights experts are calling for the immediate release of imprisoned dissident Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad, who they say is reportedly so ill he risks "serious complications and possible death.”

Six United Nations rights experts are calling for the immediate release of imprisoned dissident Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad, who they say is reportedly so ill he risks "serious complications and possible death.” "We are seriously concerned at the mistreatment of Mohammad Nourizad and his continued imprisonment for expressing his opinion," the independent UN experts said in a joint statement issued on May 4. “It is clear that Mohammad Nourizad is not in a medical state to remain in prison,” they said, adding that his continued detention and the denial of adequate medical care “may amount to torture.” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

05-04-2021
Anti-Americanism

Iran released a video clip depicting a fake attack of its military blowing up the U.S. Capitol.

Amid continued talks about a revived nuclear agreement between Washington and Tehran, Iran released a video clip on Sunday depicting fake attack of its military blowing up the U.S. Capitol. The video came out on state-controlled Iranian television before the nation's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, gave a speech on Sunday, according to The Washington Free Beacon. In his talk, Khamenei praised the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), who have carried out operations against the U.S. and whose leader, Qassem Soleimani, was killed by a drone strike by the Trump administration. The footage of the fake attack also came out the same day Iran's President Hassan Rouhani declared the U.S. had lost its "economic war" against his country, saying that sanctions against Tehran are at the "brink of extermination," his rhetoric painting a grim picture for the prospect of the two nations reaching a mutual agreement on a revived Iran nuclear deal. (Newsweek)

05-02-2021
Politics

Iran's supreme leader criticised its foreign minister, who said in a leaked interview that the elite Revolutionary Guards had more influence in foreign affairs and Tehran's nuclear dossier than him.

Iran's supreme leader on Sunday criticised its foreign minister, who said in a leaked interview that the elite Revolutionary Guards had more influence in foreign affairs and Tehran's nuclear dossier than him. In the interview, aired by the London-based Iran International Persian-language satellite news channel last week, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he had "zero" influence over Iran’s foreign policy. Zarif has been the public face of Iranian diplomacy as it deals with a host of issues, including talks with world powers on how to revive Iran's 2015 nuclear accord that Washington abandoned three years ago. (Reuters)

04-29-2021
Human Rights

Iranian authorities are banning members of the persecuted Baha’i minority from burying their loved ones in empty plots at a cemetery near Tehran that they have used for decades.

Iranian authorities are banning members of the persecuted Baha’i minority from burying their loved ones in empty plots at a cemetery near Tehran that they have used for decades, instead insisting they bury them between existing graves within the cemetery or at the nearby Khavaran mass grave site for victims of the 1988 prison massacres, said Amnesty International today. The Khavaran mass grave site, which is believed to contain the remains of up to several hundred victims of the mass enforced disappearances and secret extrajudicial executions of 1988, has been bulldozed multiple times in recent decades and has gained national significance in the struggle for truth and justice. By pressuring Baha’i families to bury their loved ones there, Iranian authorities are putting the mass grave site at further risk of destruction, tampering with vital forensic evidence, and continuing to commit the crimes against humanity of enforced disappearance, torture and other inhumane acts against the families of those forcibly disappeared and secretly killed. (Amnesty International)

04-27-2021
Military

A U.S. Navy patrol boat fired warning shots during a confrontation with three Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf, officials said, in a second high-risk encounter between U.S. and Iranian naval forces in the past month.

A U.S. Navy patrol boat fired warning shots during a confrontation with three Iranian vessels on Monday in the Persian Gulf, officials said, in a second high-risk encounter between U.S. and Iranian naval forces in the past month. The incident on Monday and another in the region on April 2 marked the first in a year involving American warships. They occurred as the Biden administration presses for talks on renewing the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran. Talks began in Vienna earlier this month. In Monday’s standoff, Navy officials said that three small vessels commonly used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, swarmed two American ships operating in international waters in the northern area of the Persian Gulf. (Wall Street Journal)

04-25-2021
Nuclear Program

Iranian hardliners in the parliament have indicated that they will block a possible settlement in negotiations aimed at resuming the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iranian hardliners in the parliament have indicated that they will block a possible settlement in negotiations aimed at resuming the 2015 nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “The results of the nuclear negotiations in Vienna must be in line with Iranian law, otherwise they will be illegal,” warned MP Alireza Salimi. Tasnim News Agency reported that a settlement between the two sides would lead Washington to partially lift the sanctions, however it would not be legal unless approved by parliament. (Asharq al-Awsat)

04-23-2021
Syria Conflict

Yemen's Houthi movement said it had launched attacks with drones on a military air base and oil facility in Saudi Arabia.

Yemen's Houthi movement said on Friday it had launched attacks with drones on a military air base and oil facility in Saudi Arabia, the latest indication that diplomacy to end the six year conflict has so far failed to take hold. The Houthi military spokesman said on Twitter the group had targeted the King Khalid air base with two drones and had struck a facility of Saudi Arabia's oil company Aramco with a drone in the southwestern Saudi city of Jizan. He later said the Houthis had launched a third strike on the air base. Earlier on Friday, Saudi state television quoted the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen as saying it had intercepted two explosives-laden drones fired by the Houthis at the city of Khamis Mushait, where the air base is located. There was no immediate confirmation of the Jizan attack or the third attack on the air base. (Reuters)

04-22-2021
Military

Iran flew a drone over a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, capturing detailed footage of fighter jets aligned on the deck, crewmen on board and other military equipment.

Iran flew a drone over a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, capturing detailed footage of fighter jets aligned on the deck, crewmen on board and other military equipment, according to a report. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, which said its drone filmed the warship as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, released the footage on Wednesday, the Express reported.  At one point the drone hovered over the carrier as a US Navy helicopter prepared to take off or land. (New York Post)

04-21-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has installed extra advanced centrifuges at its underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, a report by the U.N. atomic watchdog showed, deepening Iran's breaches of its nuclear deal with major powers.

Iran has installed extra advanced centrifuges at its underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz that was hit by a blast last week, a report by the U.N. atomic watchdog on Wednesday showed, deepening Iran's breaches of its nuclear deal with major powers. The explosion and a power outage damaged an unknown number of centrifuges and Iranian state TV has shown footage of machines that it says were replaced there. Iran has blamed Israel for the explosion. Israel has not commented formally on it. The International Atomic Energy Agency report was not clear on how many centrifuges are in use but it gave "up to" numbers of advanced machines installed at the plant that were higher than previously indicated. The report made no mention of the explosion or its effect on the plant's activity. (Reuters)

04-19-2021
Nuclear Program

Satellite images show that four new buildings have gone up at Iran’s Parchin military complex, where explosives experiments related to nuclear weapons were conducted in the early 2000s.

Satellite images show that four new buildings have gone up at Iran’s Parchin military complex, where explosives experiments related to nuclear weapons were conducted in the early 2000s. The structures are surrounded by steep walls made of compacted earth to deflect explosions, intelligence consultancy group The Intel Lab said. This comes after the completion of the nearby extension in November 2020, comprising a dozen new buildings surrounded by High and Thick concrete blast walls. (Asharq al-Awsat)

04-16-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said that Tehran had started 60% uranium enrichment at its Natanz site, days after an explosion at the site that Tehran blamed on Israel.

Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said on Friday that Tehran had started 60% uranium enrichment at its Natanz site, days after an explosion at the site that Tehran blamed on Israel. The Israeli security government cabinet will meet at 4:00 on Sunday to address the new announcement, Israeli media reported. Earlier the speaker of Iran’s parliament said Iranian scientists had successfully started enriching 60% uranium at 12.40 a.m. local time. "I am proud to announce that at 00:40 … Iranian scientists were able to produce 60% enriched uranium," he wrote. (Jerusalem Post)

04-10-2021
Nuclear Program

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani oversaw on live television the launch of advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium, a key component for nuclear weapons, while reiterating his country’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani oversaw on live television Saturday the launch of advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium, a key component for nuclear weapons, while reiterating his country’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation. Rouhani’s conflicting messages came as the country observed National Nuclear Technology Day, during which he was seen on state television ordering the injection of uranium gas into nearly 200 centrifuges and tests on other devices at the underground Natanz nuclear plant. “Once again, I stress that all our nuclear activities are peaceful and for non-military purposes,” Rouhani said during the ceremony at which more than 130 advances in its nuclear industry over the past year were unveiled, primarily in medicine, energy and agriculture. (VOA)

04-07-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has made 55 kg of uranium enriched to up to 20% - the point at which it is highly enriched - indicating quicker production than the 10 kg a month rate required by an Iranian law that created the process in January.

Iran has made 55 kg of uranium enriched to up to 20% - the point at which it is highly enriched - indicating quicker production than the 10 kg a month rate required by an Iranian law that created the process in January, Iranian authorities said on Wednesday. The disclosure comes a day after Tehran and Washington held what they described as “constructive” indirect talks in Vienna on Tuesday aimed at finding ways to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Iran’s hardline parliament passed a law last year that obliges the government to harden its nuclear stance, partly in reaction to former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018. (Reuters)

04-06-2021
Human Rights

A German-Iranian woman was returned to solitary confinement at Tehran’s Evin jail on the eve of talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

A German-Iranian woman was returned to solitary confinement at Tehran’s Evin jail on the eve of talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. Nahid Taghavi, 66, was taken from a mainstream women’s wing to a section of the jail controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in which she was previously held for five months. Her family believes the move was intended to put pressure on Germany, one of the signatories to the nuclear accord, as Iran pushes for the lifting of US sanctions at talks in the Austrian capital, Vienna. (The National)

04-06-2021
Syria Conflict

Millions of crude oil barrels are on their way to Syria from Iran, violating U.S. sanctions.

Millions of crude oil barrels are on their way to Syria from Iran, violating U.S. sanctions. According to a civilian naval intelligence firm, there are four vessels with more than 3 million barrels combined on their way to the Baniyas oil refinery, near the Mediterranean coast. A satellite photo captured two days ago over the southern section of the Red Sea shows four vessels: Arman 114, Sam 121, Daran and Romina. The Arman 114 is formerly known as the Adrian Darya 1, a vessel in the center of the U.S.-Iran standoff in the summer of 2019. It was sanctioned by the Trump administration in August 2019, following its attempts to transfer the oil to Syria. (Fox News)

04-03-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran wants the United States to lift all sanctions and rejects any “step-by-step” easing of restrictions.

Iran wants the United States to lift all sanctions and rejects any “step-by-step” easing of restrictions, the foreign ministry said on Saturday ahead of planned talks in Vienna next week on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and global powers. The comments came as France urged Iran to show a constructive stance in the indirect talks with Washington in the Austrian capital, which will be part of broader negotiations. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that Tehran opposed any gradual easing of sanctions. (Reuters)

04-01-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has begun enriching uranium with a fourth cascade, or cluster, of advanced IR-2m machines at its underground Natanz plant, a report by the U.N. atomic watchdog showed, in a further breach of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran has begun enriching uranium with a fourth cascade, or cluster, of advanced IR-2m machines at its underground Natanz plant, a report by the U.N. atomic watchdog showed, in a further breach of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. It was the latest of many steps by Iran raising pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden with the two sides in a standoff over who should move first to salvage a deal that was meant to curb Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear bomb, if it so intended. The deal imposed limits on Iran’s nuclear activities that it started breaching in 2019 in response to a U.S. withdrawal from the accord under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, as well as the reimposition of U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic that had been lifted under the agreement. (Reuters)

03-31-2021
Human Rights

Iran is “obsessively” executing death row inmates despite a decline in public support for capital punishment, rights activists said as they released a report on the death penalty in the country.

Iran is “obsessively” executing death row inmates despite a decline in public support for capital punishment, rights activists said Tuesday as they released a report on the death penalty in the country. Iran executed at least 267 prisoners last year, according to the report by the Paris-based Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM) and Iran Human Rights (IHR). At least four were juvenile offenders while nine were women, the annual report said. The overall figure indicates a downward trend in capital punishment in the Islamic republic since 2015, when 972 people were executed, and is the lowest number since the report was first published in 2008. (AFP)

03-31-2021
Syria Conflict

Along Iraq’s borders, a corrupt customs-evasion cartel is diverting billions of dollars away from state coffers to line the pockets of armed groups, political parties and crooked officials.

Along Iraq’s borders, a corrupt customs-evasion cartel is diverting billions of dollars away from state coffers to line the pockets of armed groups, political parties and crooked officials. The prime beneficiaries are Iran-linked Shiite paramilitaries that intimidate federal officials who dare obstruct them, sometimes through chillingly specific death threats, a six-month AFP investigation has found. The network is so well-oiled and entrenched that revenues are parceled out among rival groups with remarkably little friction, part of a parallel system that Iraq’s finance minister has described as “state plunder.” (AFP)

03-27-2021
Syria Conflict

China agreed to invest $400 billion in Iran over 25 years in exchange for a steady supply of oil to fuel its growing economy under a newly signed sweeping economic and security agreement.

China agreed to invest $400 billion in Iran over 25 years in exchange for a steady supply of oil to fuel its growing economy under a sweeping economic and security agreement signed on Saturday. The deal could deepen China’s influence in the Middle East and undercut American efforts to keep Iran isolated. But it was not immediately clear how much of the agreement can be implemented while the U.S. dispute with Iran over its nuclear program remains unresolved. President Biden has offered to resume negotiations with Iran over the 2015 nuclear accord that his predecessor, President Donald J. Trump, abrogated three years after it was signed. American officials say both countries can take synchonized steps to bring Iran into compliance with the terms of the agreement while the United States gradually lifts sanctions. (New York Times)

03-25-2021
Syria Conflict

An Iranian missile struck an Israeli ship sailing from Tanzania to India, Israel’s Channel 12 said, without saying where it got the information or how Iran was implicated.

An Iranian missile struck an Israeli ship sailing from Tanzania to India, Israel’s Channel 12 said, without saying where it got the information or how Iran was implicated. It’s the fourth time in about a month that the bitter enemies have traded allegations of attacks at sea, and comes amid heightened tensions as Israel opposes U.S. President Joe Biden’s efforts to rejoin the 2015 deal that limited Iran’s nuclear activities. Israel’s army spokesman didn’t comment, and there was no response from XT Management, the company Channel 12 cited as owning the Israeli ship. Officials in Iran, where a public holiday is being celebrated, couldn’t be reached for comment. (Bloomberg)

03-22-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran is hiding equipment from international officials that could enable it to build a nuclear bomb, according to a report in the Telegraph citing unnamed Western intelligence officials.

Iran is hiding equipment from international officials that could enable it to build a nuclear bomb, according to a Monday report. Unnamed Western intelligence officials told The Telegraph that they fear Iran is concealing essential parts and pumps for centrifuges that are used to enrich uranium to the weapons-grade level of 90 percent. The machinery is allegedly hidden at secret sites run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the report said. Iran denies its nuclear program has military goals, but has repeatedly threatened to destroy Israel and has said that it can enrich uranium to 90% quickly if it wants. (Times of Israel)

03-22-2021
Syria Conflict

Syrian opposition media outlets are reporting that the Iranian proxy militia, Kataib al-Imam Ali, has opened a new recruitment center at the heart of the regime-run northern city of Aleppo.

Syrian opposition media outlets are reporting that the Iranian proxy militia, Kataib al-Imam Ali, has opened a new recruitment center at the heart of the regime-run northern city of Aleppo. Establishing the drafting center took place with consent from the Syrian regime, said local sources. Javad al-Ghaffari, a prominent Iranian leader who is based in Aleppo, had met with officials at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Damascus to discuss and approve the operation. All those willing to join the militia, including army defectors and dodgers of compulsory military service, will be accepted, sources predicted. Regime forces will drop their pursuit of anyone drafted into the Iranian militia, even if they are ex-soldiers wanted for decamping or citizens accused of draft evasion. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

03-22-2021
Military

Iran is planning to expand its submarine fleet amid continued maritime tensions with the U.S., Israel and other powers.

Iran is planning to expand its submarine fleet amid continued maritime tensions with the U.S., Israel and other powers as President Joe Biden pushes for a diplomatic thaw between Washington, D.C. and Tehran despite regional violence. Rear-Admiral Amir Rastegari, the head of the Defense Ministry's marine industries organization arm, told the state-run IRNA on Monday that the navy is planning to provide "light and semi-heavy domestically-developed submarines" to the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The IRGC maritime area of responsibility is the Persian Gulf stretching to the Strait of Hormuz, Rastegari said. Iran's navy oversees the eastern portion of the Strait of Hormuz into the Indian Ocean. (Newsweek)

03-21-2021
Anti-Americanism

Iran has made threats against Fort McNair, an Army post in the U.S. capital, and against the Army’s vice chief of staff.

Iran has made threats against Fort McNair, an Army post in the U.S. capital, and against the Army’s vice chief of staff, two senior U.S. intelligence officials said. They said communications intercepted by the National Security Agency in January showed that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard discussed mounting “USS Cole-style attacks” against the Army post, referring to the October 2000 suicide attack in which a small boat pulled up alongside the Navy destroyer in the Yemeni port of Aden and exploded, killing 17 sailors. The intelligence also revealed threats to kill Gen. Joseph M. Martin and plans to infiltrate and surveil the installation, according to the officials, who were not authorized to publicly discuss national security matters and spoke on condition of anonymity. The Army post, one of the oldest in the country, is Martin’s official residence. (Associated Press)

03-21-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country was in “no hurry” to revive the nuclear deal and warned the U.S. its current policy toward the Islamic Republic was doomed to fail unless sanctions are effectively and fully removed.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country was in “no hurry” to revive the nuclear deal and warned the U.S. its current policy toward the Islamic Republic was doomed to fail unless sanctions are effectively and fully removed. Khamenei’s speech, marking the Persian new year in Iran, highlighted his impatience with the Biden administration’s decision to maintain sanctions and continue a standoff that started almost three years ago when former President Donald Trump abandoned the multilateral, 2015 nuclear deal. “We shouldn’t burn opportunities, but we shouldn’t hurry either,” Khamenei said, adding “we have a lot of patience and will continue to do our own thing. If they accepted and implemented our desired policy, everything will be fixed. If not, things will remain as it is and there’s nothing wrong with that.” (Bloomberg)

03-19-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran will cold test its redesigned Arak nuclear reactor as prelude to fully commissioning it later in the year, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said.

Iran will cold test its redesigned Arak nuclear reactor as prelude to fully commissioning it later in the year, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said on Friday. Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi was quoted by local media as saying the cold testing, which usually include the initial startup of fluid systems and support systems, will take place early in the Iranian new year that begins this Sunday. “In other words, we have advanced work in the field of fuel, storage, etc,” Kamalvandi said. (Reuters)

03-18-2021
Human Rights

Swedish-Iranian scientist Ahmadreza Djalali, sentenced to death in Iran on espionage charges, is in critical condition and near death after months of prolonged solitary confinement.

Swedish-Iranian scientist Ahmadreza Djalali, sentenced to death in Iran on espionage charges, is in critical condition and near death after months of prolonged solitary confinement, U.N. human rights experts said on Thursday. “Djalali’s situation is truly horrific,” the experts said. In an appeal calling on Iran to release him, they said he had been held in solitary confinement for more than 100 days, with prison officials shining bright lights in his cell round the clock to deprive him of sleep. “Medical issues have prevented him from eating properly, resulting in dramatic weight loss,” said the experts, who include the U.N. special rapporteurs on the situation in Iran, arbitrary executions, arbitrary detentions and torture. (Reuters)

03-17-2021
Military

Iran’s civil aviation body blamed a misaligned radar and an error by an air defence operator in a final report into the shooting-down of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January 2020 that killed all 176 people aboard.

Iran’s civil aviation body blamed a misaligned radar and an error by an air defence operator in a final report into the shooting-down of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January 2020 that killed all 176 people aboard. The report on Wednesday into the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 “makes no attempt to answer critical questions about what truly happened and appears incomplete,” Canada said in a statement. Many of the victims killed in the crash were Canadian citizens or permanent residents. “There will be no solace for the families because the whole story, the complete story with the hard evidence to back it up is not being provided,” added Ralph Goodale, an advisor to Canada’s prime minister on PS752. (Reuters)

03-17-2021
Military

The Iranian Khorgo underground ballistic missile site is almost operational after new launching positions were constructed.

The Iranian Khorgo underground ballistic missile site is almost operational after new launching positions were constructed, satellite images obtained by Fox News show. Images taken by Maxar Technologies reveal four holes dug into the side of a mountain. Three of the shafts are hardened vertical launch positions in their final construction phase, according to a separate analysis done by the civilian intelligence group Intel Lab. "Considering the geographic location as well as the existing topography, once this complex reaches full operational capability, it will not be an easy task to neutralize it by conventional means," said Chief Intel Lab Analyst Itay Bar-Lev. (Fox News)

03-17-2021
Terrorism

The leaders of Russia and Iran last year ordered their governments to attempt to influence U.S. voters’ choices in the presidential election and undermine the public’s faith in American democracy.

The leaders of Russia and Iran last year ordered their governments to attempt to influence U.S. voters’ choices in the presidential election and undermine the public’s faith in American democracy, a U.S. intelligence assessment released Tuesday said. Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a range of intelligence operations intended to hurt Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and support President Trump’s re-election, while Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved a digital scheme to undercut Mr. Trump’s re-election bid, the declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said. China didn’t undertake an effort to influence voters, considering but ultimately forgoing one because neither candidate appeared sufficiently favorable to Beijing to risk its being caught by the U.S., the report said. The report also found that Cuba, Venezuela and the militant group Hezbollah took some steps to influence the election as well, though it described those as generally smaller in scale to Russia’s and Iran’s meddling. (Wall Street Journal)

03-16-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has started enriching uranium at its underground Natanz plant with a second type of advanced centrifuge, the IR-4, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a report reviewed by Reuters, in a further breach of Tehran’s deal with major powers.

Iran has started enriching uranium at its underground Natanz plant with a second type of advanced centrifuge, the IR-4, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a report reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday, in a further breach of Tehran’s deal with major powers. Iran has recently accelerated its breaches of the deal’s restrictions on its nuclear activities in an apparent bid to pressure U.S. President Joe Biden as both sides are locked in a standoff over who should move first to save the deal. Tehran’s breaches began in 2019 in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the deal and the reimposition of U.S. economic sanctions against Iran under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, who opposed the agreement and sought to wreck it. (Reuters)

03-16-2021
Military

Iranian state TV has aired footage of what it said was a new Revolutionary Guard base, a “missile city” armed to the teeth with cruise and ballistic weapons.

Iranian state TV has aired footage of what it said was a new Revolutionary Guard base, a “missile city” armed to the teeth with cruise and ballistic weapons.  Inside the underground facility, the footage broadcast Monday shows what appear to be advanced munitions including scores of missiles lined up along concrete walls. Outside, the base hosts what the Guard said is electronic warfare equipment, including radar, monitoring devices and simulation and disruption systems. “What we see today is a small section of the great and expansive missile capability of Revolutionary Guards’ naval forces,” Guards commander Gen. Hossein Salami said on the broadcast. (CNBC)

03-16-2021
Extremism

The chief of general staff of Iran’s armed forces, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, issued a fresh warning against Israel that Iran “has acquired what it takes to blow up the Zionist regime.”

The chief of general staff of Iran’s armed forces, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, issued a fresh warning March 16 against Israel. “Iran has acquired what it takes to blow up the Zionist regime,” Bagheri said. He said the potential “removal of the child-killing, malicious, fake regime from the political geography of the region is no illusion, but rather a genuine power that Iranian forces have gained with resolve and faith.” The statement was in apparent response a strong threat earlier this month by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who told Fox News that his country was updating plans to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. “We must stand independently and we must defend ourselves by ourselves,” Gantz warned, saying this would be the case if the world is unable to curb the Iranian nuclear program, which Israel has long considered as the top existential threat to its security. (Al-Monitor)

03-15-2021
Human Rights

Iranian authorities have charged French tourist Benjamin Briere, arrested 10 months ago, with espionage and “propaganda against the system”, one of his lawyers told Reuters.

Iranian authorities have charged French tourist Benjamin Briere, arrested 10 months ago, with espionage and “propaganda against the system”, one of his lawyers told Reuters on Monday. The news comes as the United States and European parties to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, including France, are trying to restore the pact that was abandoned in 2018 by then-U.S. president Donald Trump. Trump’s successor Joe Biden has offered to join European countries in talks to revive the accord, but Tehran says Washington should first lift sanctions imposed in 2018 by Trump. “On Sunday (Briere) was charged with two counts of espionage and propaganda against the Islamic Republic,” his lawyer Saeid Dehghan said, adding that Briere faced a lengthy jail sentence. (Reuters)

03-14-2021
Syria Conflict

Tehran supports attacks on Saudi Arabia by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ overseas Quds Force has admitted.

Tehran supports attacks on Saudi Arabia by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ overseas Quds Force has admitted. Ismail Qaani told a conference in the northeastern city of Mashhad that the Houthis had launched  “18 operations in less than 10 days” targeting the Kingdom. He said Iran supported all such armed groups around the world, which he described as “forces of resistance against global arrogance.” (Arab News)

03-14-2021
Human Rights

A trial to present new charges against a British-Iranian woman detained for five years in Iran has convened, her supporters said, casting uncertainty over her future following her release from prison.

A trial to present new charges against a British-Iranian woman detained for five years in Iran convened Sunday, her supporters said, casting uncertainty over her future following her release from prison. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe appeared in court to face charges of “spreading propaganda against the regime,” said Richard Ratcliffe, who has outspokenly campaigned for his wife’s release. Iranian authorities had introduced the new indictment months ago, but adjourned the trial until Zaghari-Ratcliffe completed her 5-year sentence on widely refuted spying charges last week. A verdict was expected within several days, he added. (Associated Press)

03-12-2021
Human Rights

An exiled Iranian Arab rights activist has revealed that three minority Arab dissidents executed by Iran’s Islamist authorities last month showed signs of torture before their death sentences were carried out.

An exiled Iranian Arab rights activist has revealed that three minority Arab dissidents executed by Iran’s Islamist authorities last month showed signs of torture before their death sentences were carried out. In a Wednesday interview with VOA Persian from London, researcher Karim Dahimi said dissidents Jasem Heidary, Ali Khasraji and Hossein Silawi had bruises when relatives were given a brief chance to see the men shortly before their Feb. 28 executions at Sepidar prison in the southwestern city of Ahvaz. The rights activist cited information he got from the relatives, whom he did not name. Dahimi has a reputation as a credible source on the human rights situation of his ethnic Ahwazi Arab minority group that lives mainly in Iran’s Khuzestan province, of which Ahvaz is the capital. His research is cited by international human rights organizations such as the Washington-based Abdorrahman Boroumand Center and the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group. (Voice of America)

03-12-2021
Human Rights

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has described her five years of torture at the hands of the Iranian regime to independent investigators for the first time.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has described her five years of torture at the hands of the Iranian regime to independent investigators for the first time. During six hours of video consultation over three days, Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, detailed abuse including sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, prolonged isolation, stress positions and prolonged handcuffing, chaining and blindfolding. Doctors diagnosed “serious and chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression and obsessive compulsive disorder” after an evaluation conducted by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims. The full report, which used United Nations standards for the assessment of torture, has been shared with The Times. The investigators conclude that she has no chance of recovery unless she is brought home for treatment. (The Times)

03-11-2021
Syria Conflict

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei claimed that the Islamic Republic’s presence in countries such as Iraq and Syria is not for military control, but rather for “advisory” assistance.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei claimed that the Islamic Republic’s presence in countries such as Iraq and Syria is not for military control, but rather for “advisory” assistance. “We are there to support sovereign governments at their own behest,” he said, rejecting the US depiction of Iran as a “destabilizing” factor. Khamenei also criticized the American military for establishing bases in those two countries “without permission” from the hosts. The issue of Iran’s influence in the region has been at the core of its tensions with the West and Khamenei’s latest remarks appeared as yet another message of defiance and a clear statement that the issue is not up for negotiations. Instead, he insisted that it is the United States “that must leave Iraq and Syria.” (Al-Monitor)

03-10-2021
Human Rights

A U.N. report on the human rights situation in Iran presents a bleak picture of a society living under a system of brutal political repression and rampant violations of fundamental freedoms.

A U.N. report on the human rights situation in Iran presents a bleak picture of a society living under a system of brutal political repression and rampant violations of fundamental freedoms.  The report has been submitted to the U.N. human rights council. In his presentation to the council, U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran Javaid Rehman did not mince his words.  He urged the International community to make Iran accountable for perpetrating what he called the most egregious violations with impunity. "It is beyond belief that almost 18 months since the deadly crackdown against the November 2019 protests in Iran, the government has still not conducted a proper investigation nor held anyone accountable for the lethal force used against protestors, which caused at least 304 deaths," Rehman said. (Voice of America)

03-09-2021
Politics

Prominent members of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are lining up for this summer's presidential election.

Prominent members of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are lining up for this summer's presidential election, which marks the end of moderate President Hassan Rouhani's term and likely a pivot to a more combative and inflexible regime in Tehran. IRGC figures are hoping to capitalize on a conservative wave, buoyed by the failure of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, former President Donald Trump's punitive "maximum pressure" campaign on Tehran, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's desire to secure the future of the Iranian theocracy. American sanctions and diplomatic isolation have choked Iran's economy, which has also struggled to stay afloat amid the chaos unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic. (Newsweek)

03-08-2021
Extremism

Iran's defense minister has responded to the suggestion of military action from Israel by threatening to "raze" the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Iran's defense minister has responded to the suggestion of military action from Israel by threatening to "raze" the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa, as regional tensions remain high amid U.S. President Joe Biden's efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal. Israel remains staunchly opposed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which it says is inadequate and will only embolden Tehran in its weapons programs, and has threatened military action against Iran's nuclear program. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that his country would stop Iran's nuclear program "with or without" the JCPOA, while Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Israel Defense Forces chief Aviv Kohavi have both said their troops are drawing up attack plans. (Newsweek)

03-07-2021
Syria Conflict

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels said they attacked a major Saudi Arabian oil port on the Persian Gulf with drones and missiles.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels said they attacked a major Saudi Arabian oil port on the Persian Gulf with drones and missiles on Sunday. Saudi authorities said the strike caused no casualties or damage. The Saudi Energy Ministry said an assault “coming from the sea” had targeted petroleum tanks at the Ras Tanura port. It condemned what it called “repeated acts of sabotage and hostility” targeting energy supplies to the world. “All indications point to Iran,” said an adviser to the Saudi royal court who said he was briefed on the matter. He said it wasn’t clear whether the origin was Iran or Iraq but that it hadn’t come from the direction of Yemen. (Wall Street Journal)

03-04-2021
Terrorism

Iranian militia groups claim to have active cells of operatives stationed in Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities, according to chatter in online forums used by these groups.

Iranian militia groups claim to have active cells of operatives stationed in Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities, according to chatter in online forums used by these groups. Kawtheryoon Electronic Team, a Telegram network used by Iranian militia groups and supporters, claimed in a recent posting that Iranian "resistance cells are rooted even in America and its capital," according to a copy of the English-language posting captured by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which tracks radical groups. The group additionally claimed that terror factions associated with Iran are growing stronger and attracting more support than ever before. The group demanded the United States withdraw all of its troops from Iraq and the Middle East. The post included a picture of caskets containing U.S. soldiers. (Washington Free Beacon)

03-04-2021
Human Rights

A court in Iran has ordered the dissolution of a prominent Iranian NGO that fights poverty.

A court in Iran has ordered the dissolution of a prominent Iranian NGO that fights poverty. Imam Ali's Popular Students Relief Society (IAPSRS) announced the court decision on Twitter on March 3 without providing details, including whether it plans on appealing the ruling. The decision came after Iran's Interior Ministry filed a complaint against the NGO and called on the judiciary to order its dissolution, a move that Human Rights Watch (HRW) said "fits a broader pattern of repression faced by civil society, but with the targeting of IAPSRS, authorities are now even shuttering groups that have been officially registered with the government." (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

03-04-2021
Syria Conflict

U.S. and Iraqi officials believe that an Iran-backed group, Kata’ib Hezbollah, with a history of targeting Americans in Iraq was responsible for a rocket attack on an Iraqi air base that hosts U.S. troops.

U.S. and Iraqi officials believe that an Iran-backed group with a history of targeting Americans in Iraq was responsible for Wednesday's attack on an Iraqi air base that hosts U.S. troops. While the investigation into the attack on Ain al-Asad air base in the western province of Anbar is still ongoing, officials believe that Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed paramilitary force, or an affiliated group was responsible, according to two defense officials familiar with early intelligence. The two defense officials requested anonymity to discuss intelligence. A spokesperson for U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, declined to offer immediate comment. (Politico)

03-03-2021
Terrorism

Israel accused Iran of being linked to a recent oil spill off its shores that caused major ecological damage, calling the incident environmental terrorism.

Israel accused Iran on Wednesday of being linked to a recent oil spill off its shores that caused major ecological damage, calling the incident environmental terrorism. The spill was caused by an oil tanker that was carrying pirated cargo from Iran to Syria last month, Israeli Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said. The vessel sailed through the Gulf and the Red Sea without radio contact, switching its tracking devices back on before passing through Egypt’s Suez Canal, Gamliel told reporters. (Reuters)

03-01-2021
Syria Conflict

Iran rejected a European Union offer to hold direct nuclear talks with the U.S. in the coming days, risking renewed tension between Tehran and Western capitals.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Iran of attacking an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman last week, a mysterious explosion that further spiked security concerns in the region. Without offering any evidence to his claim, Netanyahu told Israeli public broadcaster Kan that “it was indeed an act by Iran, that’s clear.” “Iran is the greatest enemy of Israel, I am determined to halt it. We are hitting it in the entire region,” Netanyahu said. Iran promptly dismissed the charges. (Associated Press)

02-26-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran threatens to end a deal struck with the U.N. nuclear watchdog temporarily salvaging much monitoring of its activities if the agency’s board endorses a U.S.-led push to criticize Tehran next week.

Iran is threatening to end a deal struck with the U.N. nuclear watchdog last weekend temporarily salvaging much monitoring of its activities if the agency’s board endorses a U.S.-led push to criticise Tehran next week, an Iranian position paper shows. Tehran this week scaled back cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, ending extra inspection measures introduced by its 2015 nuclear accord with major powers. It was the latest of many steps retaliating for U.S. sanctions reimposed after the United States pulled out of that agreement in 2018. Iran and U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration are now locked in a standoff over who should move first to save the unravelling 2015 deal. Tehran says Washington should lift sanctions first.  Biden wants Iran to undo its many retaliatory breaches of the deal’s nuclear restrictions first. (Reuters)

02-25-2021
Human Rights

Iran summoned eight Baha’i citizens to begin prison terms after convicting them of security crimes for peaceful activities, including alleged communication with Western media and organizing educational programs for Baha’i children.

Iran has reportedly summoned eight Baha’i citizens to begin prison terms after convicting them of security crimes for peaceful activities, including alleged communication with Western media and organizing educational programs for Baha’i children. Speaking to VOA Persian on Monday, an Iran-based source who is familiar with the situation of the eight Baha’is residing in the southern port of Bandar Abbas said they received a court notice of the prison summons the day before. The source provided VOA an apparent copy of the document, which gives the six men and two women 10 days to turn themselves in to local authorities to start serving their sentences. VOA cannot independently verify the authenticity of the document as it is barred from reporting inside Iran. (Voice of America)

02-25-2021
Human Rights

Protesters in Iran’s impoverished southeast clashed with security forces for a third consecutive day, in the latest challenge for a government facing public resentment over widespread economic hardship in the country.

Protesters in Iran’s impoverished southeast clashed with security forces for a third consecutive day, in the latest challenge for a government facing public resentment over widespread economic hardship in the country. A crowd attacked a police station in the city of Saravan with grenades and light arms on Thursday, killing one policeman before security forces repelled the rioters, the government said. The unrest erupted earlier this week when protesters stormed a local governor’s building and another police station. Those incidents came in response to Revolutionary Guard patrols firing at alleged fuel smugglers crossing the Pakistani border, killing at least 10 people, according to rights activists in the area. (Wall Street Journal)

02-25-2021
Terrorism

Twitter has suspended hundreds of Iran-based accounts for allegedly manipulative behavior.

Twitter has suspended hundreds of Iran-based accounts for allegedly manipulative behavior. Twitter removed 238 accounts operating from Iran as part of an investigation into influence operations targeting the 2020 US presidential elections, the social media giant said in a press release on Tuesday. The investigation began in October when Twitter removed around 130 Iranian accounts. The FBI told Twitter the accounts were seeking to “disrupt the public conversation” during a presidential debate. (Al-Monitor)

02-24-2021
Syria Conflict

Venezuela and Iran, both sanctioned by the United States, have found a way to help each other as shipping companies stay away from dealings with the two oil-producing countries for fear of running afoul of the U.S.

Venezuela and Iran, both sanctioned by the United States, have found a way to help each other as shipping companies stay away from dealings with the two oil-producing countries for fear of running afoul of the U.S. Venezuela is shipping jet fuel to Iran in the same tankers in which Iran delivers gasoline and spare parts for the refineries in Venezuela, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the matter and documents of Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA it had seen. Venezuela, which has an excess of jet fuel with flights grounded in the country over the past year due to the coronavirus, is sending aviation fuel to Iran, after having received gasoline from the Islamic Republic, according to Reuters’ sources. (Oil Price)

02-23-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran officially started restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities Tuesday, a bid to pressure European countries and President Joe Biden’s administration to lift crippling economic sanctions and restore the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran officially started restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities Tuesday, a bid to pressure European countries and President Joe Biden’s administration to lift crippling economic sanctions and restore the 2015 nuclear deal. World powers slammed the restrictions as a “dangerous” move. It came as the International Atomic Energy Agency reported in a confidential document distributed to member countries and seen by The Associated Press that Iran had added 17.6 kilograms (38.8 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 20% to its stockpile as of Feb. 16. (Associated Press)

02-22-2021
Nuclear Program

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday Iran might enrich uranium up to 60% purity if the country needed it and would never yield to U.S. pressure over its nuclear program.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday Iran might enrich uranium up to 60% purity if the country needed it and would never yield to U.S. pressure over its nuclear programme, state television reported. Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers, which it has been breaching since the United States withdrew in 2018, caps the fissile purity to which Tehran can refine uranium at 3.67%, well under the 20% achieved before the agreement and far below the 90% suitable for a nuclear weapon. “Iran’s uranium enrichment level will not be limited to 20%. We will increase it to whatever level the country needs ... We may increase it to 60%,” the TV quoted Khamenei as saying, upping the ante in a stand-off with U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration over the future of the fraying deal. (Reuters)

02-19-2021
Syria Conflict

Iranian-backed Iraqi militias were most likely behind a deadly rocket barrage on a U.S.-led coalition base in northern Iraq earlier this week, but it's not clear whether Iran had any role in directing the attack, experts and a U.S. official said.

Iranian-backed Iraqi militias were most likely behind a deadly rocket barrage on a U.S.-led coalition base in northern Iraq earlier this week, but it's not clear whether Iran had any role in directing the attack, experts and a U.S. official said on Friday. The attack on Irbil on Monday in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq bore the telltale signs of the Shiite militias supported by Iran, with tactics, weapons and online posts that resembled previous assaults on U.S. targets in Iraq, a current U.S. official, a former senior U.S. diplomat, and a regional expert told NBC News. Iran said on Tuesday it had no links with the group that claimed to have carried out the attack. (NBC News)

02-17-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has informed the U.N. nuclear watchdog it plans to install more of its advanced IR-2m centrifuges at an underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, a report by the agency said, which would deepen a breach of Iran’s nuclear deal.

Iran has informed the U.N. nuclear watchdog it plans to install more of its advanced IR-2m centrifuges at an underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, a report by the agency on Wednesday said, which would deepen a breach of Iran’s nuclear deal. “Iran indicated it plans to install two additional cascades of 174 IR-2m centrifuges at FEP to enrich ... up to 5% U-235. This will bring the total number of cascades of IR-2m centrifuges either planned, being installed, or operating in FEP to six,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report to member states obtained by Reuters. An IAEA report on Feb. 1 said Iran had brought a second cascade, or cluster, of IR-2m centrifuges online at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) and was installing two more. Iran’s deal with major powers says it can only enrich at the FEP with far less efficient, first-generation IR-1 centrifuges. (Reuters)

02-16-2021
Military

The Iranian and Russian militaries have kicked off a joint naval drill in the Indian Ocean aimed at boosting security of maritime trade in the region.

The Iranian and Russian militaries have kicked off a joint naval drill in the Indian Ocean aimed at boosting security of maritime trade in the region, Iran’s state TV reported on Tuesday. The TV said units from Iran’s Navy and the powerful Revolutionary Guard’s naval forces will take part in the exercise dubbed “Iran-Russia Maritime Security Belt 2021” in the northern part of Indian Ocean, spanning a stretch of about a 17,000 kilometers (10,600 miles). According to Iranian Adm. Gholamreza Tahani, the drill spokesman, a Russian destroyer, logistics ship and a helicopter were to participate in the drill. This is the second such joint Russia-Iran exercise since 2019, when the two nations plus China held a four-day exercise. (Associated Press)

02-15-2021
Human Rights

The UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran has expressed concern over reports that the country has subjected lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) children to “torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.”

The UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran has expressed concern over reports that the country has subjected lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) children to “torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.” In a report released last week, Javaid Rehman said such practices, which violate Iran’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, reportedly include “electric shocks and the administration of hormones and strong psychoactive medications.” Rehman said that members of Iran’s LGBT community “are often advised that their gender nonconformity or same-sex attraction represents so-called gender identity disorder, which necessitates ‘reparative’ therapies or sex reassignment surgeries, to ‘cure’ them.” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

02-11-2021
Military

Iran is scheduled to unveil its homegrown Kaman-22 armed drone this month, said Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh, Commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force last week.

Iran is scheduled to unveil its homegrown Kaman-22 armed drone this month, said Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh, Commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force last week. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will be an upgrade of the Kaman-12 drone, which was first introduced in September last year. The improved aircraft will be able to carry 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of explosives, Nasirzadeh said. Speaking during an online interview with Mehr News Agency, Nasirzadeh said professionals are being trained at Tehran’s Shahid Sattari Aeronautical University to operate the drone, and that exchange programs between Iranian students and Chinese and Pakistani institutions are underway. (Defense Post)

02-11-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has started producing uranium metal, the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency said, in a fresh breach of the limits laid out in Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran has started producing uranium metal, the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency said Wednesday, in a fresh breach of the limits laid out in Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The latest violation of the deal, which is aimed at preventing Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, came as Iran warned that time was running out for President Joe Biden's administration to save the agreement. The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report obtained by CBS News United Nations' reporter Pamela Falk that on February 8, it verified 3.6 grams of uranium metal "had been produced" at Iran's Fuel Plate Fabrication Plant in Esfahan. IAEA director general Rafael Grossi informed member states of the new violation, the statement added. (CBS News)

02-09-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran’s intelligence minister said persistent Western pressure could push Tehran to fight back like a “cornered cat” and seek nuclear weapons, which the Islamic Republic has for years insisted it has no intention of ever developing.

Iran’s intelligence minister said persistent Western pressure could push Tehran to fight back like a “cornered cat” and seek nuclear weapons, which the Islamic Republic has for years insisted it has no intention of ever developing. The remarks made in a television interview are a rare suggestion that Iran might have an interest in nuclear weapons, which Western nations have accused Iran of pursuing. Iranian officials have repeatedly dismissed this charge, citing a fatwa or religious decree issued in the early 2000s by the Islamic Republic’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that bans the development or use of nuclear arms. (Reuters)

02-08-2021
Human Rights

Iran is running two surveillance operations in cyber-space, targeting more than 1,000 dissidents, according to a leading cyber-security company.

Iran is running two surveillance operations in cyber-space, targeting more than 1,000 dissidents, according to a leading cyber-security company. The efforts were directed against individuals in Iran and 12 other countries, including the UK and US, Check Point said. It said the two groups involved were using new techniques to install spyware on targets' PCs and mobile devices. And this was then being used to steal call recordings and media files. (Newsweek)

02-08-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran and North Korea cooperated on long-range missile development projects last year, according to a confidential United Nations report that may pressure the Biden administration to respond to one of its first major geopolitical crises.

Iran and North Korea cooperated on long-range missile development projects last year, according to a confidential United Nations report that may pressure the Biden administration to respond to one of its first major geopolitical crises. “This resumed cooperation is said to have included the transfer of critical parts, with the most recent shipment associated with this relationship taking place in 2020,” an independent panel of experts monitoring sanctions on North Korea said in the report, citing a member state. Frequently on the fringes of international diplomacy, North Korea and Iran have long had a secretive, mutually beneficial relationship. The UN panel received information showing that Iran’s Shahid Haj Ali Movahed Research Center received “support and assistance” from North Korean missile specialists for a space launch vehicle, and that North Korea was involved in certain shipments to Iran. (Bloomberg)

02-06-2021
Terrorism

Iranian cyber actors are likely behind the creation of an inflammatory website called Enemies of the People and continue to be active despite earlier warnings, according to the FBI.

Iranian cyber actors are likely behind the creation of an inflammatory website called Enemies of the People and continue to be active despite earlier warnings, according to the FBI. The website contains, among other things, death threats directed toward U.S. election officials, the FBI said in a recent advisory. The intent is to "create fear, divisions, and mistrust in the United States and undermine public confidence in the US electoral process," the FBI said. The Iranian cyber group has also exposed officials' personal information and photographs, a practice known as doxing. (Fox News)

02-05-2021
Nuclear Program

United Nations inspectors have found new evidence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran, according to three diplomats briefed on the discovery, raising new questions about the scope of the country’s atomic ambitions.

United Nations inspectors have found new evidence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran, according to three diplomats briefed on the discovery, raising new questions about the scope of the country’s atomic ambitions. Samples taken from two sites during inspections in the fall by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency contained traces of radioactive material, the diplomats said, that could indicate Iran has undertaken work on nuclear weapons, based on where it was found. The diplomats said they didn’t know the exact nature of what was found. Last year, Iran blocked IAEA inspectors from checking the sites involved for seven months, leading to a standoff. Tehran has long denied that it has sought to make an atomic bomb and said all of its nuclear work is for peaceful purposes such as power generation and health care. There was no immediate comment from Iran on the findings. (Wall Street Journal)

02-04-2021
Human Rights

Amnesty International is urging the international community to "urgently intervene" to save the lives of four ethnic Baluch and four ethnic Arab men who are on death row following what the human rights watchdog called "flagrantly unfair trials."

Amnesty International is urging the international community to "urgently intervene" to save the lives of four ethnic Baluch and four ethnic Arab men who are on death row following what the human rights watchdog called "flagrantly unfair trials." "The recent escalation in executions of Baluchis and Ahwazi Arabs raises serious concerns that the authorities are using the death penalty to sow fear among disadvantaged ethnic minorities, as well as the wider population," Diana Eltahawy, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at the London-based group, said in a statement on February 4. "The disproportionate use of the death penalty against Iran's ethnic minorities epitomizes the entrenched discrimination and repression they have faced for decades," Eltahawy added. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

02-04-2021
Terrorism

A Belgian court sentenced an Iranian diplomat to 20 years in prison for plotting a bomb attack against a gathering of Iranian dissidents outside Paris in 2018, in a case that has strained Tehran’s ties with Europe.

A Belgian court sentenced an Iranian diplomat to 20 years in prison for plotting a bomb attack against a gathering of Iranian dissidents outside Paris in 2018, in a case that has strained Tehran’s ties with Europe. Assadollah Assadi, a counselor at Iran’s embassy in Vienna, was Thursday convicted of organizing the foiled attack that targeted a rally held by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella opposition group dominated by the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, or MEK. The court in Antwerp sentenced three other Iranians to 15, 17 and 18 years respectively in prison for collusion, concluding that Iranian state intelligence had ordered the plot. (Wall Street Journal)

02-03-2021
Nuclear Program

President Hassan Rouhani ruled out changes to Iran's nuclear accord with world powers and dismissed calls to broaden the terms of the deal.

President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday ruled out changes to Iran's nuclear accord with world powers and dismissed calls to broaden the terms of the deal. US President Joe Biden has voiced support for returning to the accord, from which Donald Trump exited, but has insisted that Tehran first resume full compliance and consider expanding the deal beyond the nuclear issue. "No clause of the JCPOA will change. Know this. And no one will be added to the JCPOA," Rouhani said at a televised cabinet meeting, using the deal's official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. "This is the agreement. If they want it, everyone come into compliance. If they don't, they can go live their lives," he said. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

02-02-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has now two cascades of advanced centrifuges with almost four times the enrichment capacity of earlier ones running at its Natanz nuclear site.

Iran has now two cascades of advanced centrifuges with almost four times the enrichment capacity of earlier ones running at its Natanz nuclear site, its envoy to the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Tuesday. “Thanks to our diligent nuclear scientists, two cascades of 348 IR2m centrifuges with almost 4 times the capacity of IR1 are now running ...successfully in Natanz,” Kazem Gharibabadi said on Twitter. “Installation of 2 cascades of IR6 centrifuges has also been started in Fordow. There’s more to come soon.” (Reuters)

02-01-2021
Military

Iran tested a new rocket with improved technology that could be used in its missile program, its latest attempt to raise the stakes for the Biden administration ahead of potential negotiations over a new nuclear deal.

Iran tested a new rocket on Monday with improved technology that could be used in its missile program, its latest attempt to raise the stakes for the Biden administration ahead of potential negotiations over a new nuclear deal. The new rocket, named Zuljanah, was developed under a government-backed program to send civilian satellites into orbit 310 miles above ground, according to a spokesman for the Iranian Defense Ministry’s Space Department. The technology is easily transferable to Iran’s military missile program run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, experts say. The Zuljanah features a solid-fuel-propelled motor that is the largest yet exhibited by Iran. Motors propelled by solid fuel, rather than liquid, are a key component in intercontinental ballistic missiles, which the U.S. seeks to prevent Iran from developing. (Wall Street Journal)

02-01-2021
Terrorism

Several Iranian agents who scouted out the Israeli, American, and Emirati embassies in an unnamed East African country in preparation for a potential attack have been arrested, according to an Israeli TV report.

Several Iranian agents who scouted out the Israeli, American, and Emirati embassies in an unnamed East African country in preparation for a potential attack have been arrested, according to a Monday Israeli TV report. The agents were sent by Iran to gather intelligence on the sites for a terror attack, Kan News reported, citing Western intelligence sources. Some held dual European and Iranian citizenship, and some were arrested in the East African country, while others were apprehended in different countries. The attack was thwarted last month, according to the report. (Times of Israel)

01-30-2021
Syria Conflict

United Nations experts are warning of a "growing body of evidence" that Iran is sending weapons to Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen.

United Nations experts are warning of a "growing body of evidence" that Iran is sending weapons to Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen, in a report that warns of a deteriorating situation in the country with "devastating consequence" for the civilian population. The report by a U.N. panel of experts to the Security Council, a copy of which was obtained by Fox News, says "there is a growing body of evidence that shows that individuals or entities within the Islamic Republic of Iran are engaged in sending weapons and weapons components to the Houthis" in violation of U.N. resolutions. The evidence includes anti-tank guided missiles, sniper rifles and RPB launchers all with markings consistent with those made in Iran. (Fox News)

01-30-2021
Syria Conflict

Short and medium range surface-to-surface Iranian missiles were delivered to the Iraqi Hezbollah near the regime-controlled town of Al-Tabani in the western countryside of Syria’s Deir Ezzor province.

Short and medium range surface-to-surface Iranian missiles were delivered Friday to the Iraqi Hezbollah near the regime-controlled town of Al-Tabani in the western countryside of Syria’s Deir Ezzor province. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 56 missiles were delivered to the Hezbollah sites in civilian trucks via unofficial crossings between Syria and Iraq. Earlier this month, SOHR activists had monitored the Afghan Fatimiyoun Brigade unloading a weapons shipment from four large trucks used for transporting vegetables and fruits. The trucks were loaded with Iranian-made missiles, coming from Iraq. The shipments were stored in commercial warehouses rented from civilians in the area of Kua Ibn Aswad, located between Al-Mayadeen city and Mahakan town in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

01-29-2021
Human Rights

The United Nations human rights office condemned an alleged spree of 28 executions in Iran, including several prisoners from minority groups, and called on Tehran to halt the hanging of an ethnic Baluchi man.

The United Nations human rights office on Friday condemned an alleged spree of 28 executions in Iran, including several prisoners from minority groups, and called on Tehran to halt the hanging of an ethnic Baluchi man. Iran has often faced criticism from world bodies and Western human rights group for its rights record and high number of executions - the world’s highest after China, according to Amnesty International. Tehran has dismissed the criticism as baseless and due to a lack of understanding of its Islamic laws. “#Iran: We strongly condemn the series of executions – at least 28 – since mid-December, including of people from minority groups,” the U.N. human rights office said on Twitter. (Reuters)

01-28-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has exceeded 17 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium within a month’s time, state TV reported, moving its nuclear program closer to weapons-grade enrichment levels amid heightened tensions with the U.S.

Iran has exceeded 17 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium within a month’s time, state TV reported Thursday, moving its nuclear program closer to weapons-grade enrichment levels amid heightened tensions with the U.S. Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, during a visit to the country’s Fordo nuclear facility, said in a televised speech that in less than a month, scientists passed 17 kilograms (37.5 pounds) of 20% enriched uranium. Uranium enriched to 20% is a short technical step away from weapons-grade 90% enrichment. Western nations have criticized Iran’s enrichment activity and called on Tehran to adhere to a 2015 nuclear accord. (Associated Press)

01-26-2021
Human Rights

An Iranian-American has been sentenced to prison on spying charges, Iran's judiciary reported Tuesday, the latest dual national held in the country amid tensions with the West.

An Iranian-American has been sentenced to prison on spying charges, Iran's judiciary reported Tuesday, the latest dual national held in the country amid tensions with the West. Iran's judiciary did not name the man sentenced but said he had been free on bail and re-arrested while trying to flee the country. Iranian media said a businessman named Emad Sharghi was arrested while trying to leave the country through a western border. Iranian media said Sharghi is a dual U.S.-Iranian national, and that his wife's passport was also confiscated to prevent her leaving the country. It was the first arrest of an American or a U.S. dual national announced by Iran since President Joe Biden was sworn in earlier this month, and it may complicate Mr. Biden's efforts to bring Iran back into compliance with the nuclear accord that his predecessor pulled the U.S. out of in 2018. (CBS News)

01-26-2021
Human Rights

The Iranian regime's lethal assaults on decorated Iranian athletes continued unabated, with the execution of a second champion wrestler.

The Iranian regime's lethal assaults on decorated Iranian athletes continued unabated, with the execution of a second champion wrestler on Monday. The Jerusalem Post reported two weeks ago that the execution of wrestler Mehdi Ali Hosseini was imminent. He is from Andimeshk in the province of Khuzestan, and was arrested in 2015 and charged with pre-meditated murder, supposedly committed during a group fight. It is unclear whether the Islamic Republic authorities forced Hosseini to confess to a crime he did not commit. (Jerusalem Post)

01-19-2021
Anti-Americanism

Iran sanctioned President Trump and nine other U.S. officials, in a parting shot against an outgoing administration that has pummeled the country and its top officials with sanctions.

Iran sanctioned President Trump and nine other U.S. officials, in a parting shot against an outgoing administration that has pummeled the country and its top officials with sanctions. Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the U.S. officials were designated for their role in terrorist activities against Iran, including sanctions and last year’s killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. The Iranian sanctions also targeted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former and current special representatives for Iran Brian Hook and Elliott Abrams, as well as former national security adviser John Bolton. (Wall Street Journal)

01-18-2021
Nuclear Program

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi says the country is producing some 500 grams of uranium enriched to 20% purity a day, after beginning to do so earlier this month in breach of the 2015 nuclear accord.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi says the country is producing some 500 grams of uranium enriched to 20% purity a day, after beginning to do so earlier this month in breach of the 2015 nuclear accord. Salehi tells the Khamenei.ir website, the official site of Iran’s supreme leader, that nuclear scientists “are producing 20 grams every hour, meaning that practically, we are producing half a kilo every day.” Salehi says if other parties to the deal return to it, “we will return to our undertakings too.” (Times of Israel)

01-17-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran urged the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog to avoid publishing “unnecessary” details on Tehran’s nuclear program, a day after Germany, France and Britain said Tehran has “no credible civilian use” for its development of uranium metal.

Iran urged the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog to avoid publishing “unnecessary” details on Tehran’s nuclear program, state TV reported Sunday, a day after Germany, France and Britain said Tehran has “no credible civilian use” for its development of uranium metal. The report quoted a statement from Iran’s nuclear department that asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to avoid publishing details on Iran’s nuclear program that may cause confusion. “It is expected the international atomic energy agency avoid providing unnecessary details and prevent paving ground for misunderstanding” in the international community, the statement said. It did not elaborate. (Associated Press)

01-16-2021
Military

Long-range missiles from Iran splashed down close to a commercial ship in the Indian Ocean Saturday and 100 miles from the Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group.

Long-range missiles from Iran splashed down close to a commercial ship in the Indian Ocean Saturday and 100 miles from the Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group, Fox News has learned, in the latest example of rising tensions in the region.  U.S. officials say at least one of the missiles landed 20 miles from the commercial vessel but refused to offer more specifics about the ship, citing privacy concerns. The officials requested anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.  Iran tests missiles frequently. Senior U.S. military officials say 100 miles was a long way from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. Another source says these missiles did not cause alarm, and this was a fairly standard routine exercise. (Fox News)

01-15-2021
Syria Conflict

Iranian forces and affiliated militias in Deir ez-Zor province in eastern Syria carried out new redeployment and repositioning operations after their military sites and barracks were subjected to airstrikes, believed to be carried out by Israeli aircraft

Iranian forces and affiliated militias in Deir ez-Zor province in eastern Syria carried out new redeployment and repositioning operations after their military sites and barracks were subjected to airstrikes, believed to be carried out by Israeli aircraft Jan. 13.  The redeployment included evacuating the sites affected by the bombing, emptying several weapons depots, and moving weapons to other locations in various neighborhoods in the cities of Deir ez-Zor, Abu Kamal and Mayadeen. Ahed Slebi, a journalist in the Naher Media Network, which covers news about Deir ez-Zor, told Al-Monitor, “The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] and its militias in Deir ez-Zor governorate have carried out unprecedented military action, due to the violent bombing that targeted their sites. The Iranian militias transferred the bulk of their members and military equipment to residential neighborhoods in Deir ez-Zor, al-Bukamal, and al-Mayadin. The new deployments included transferring rockets and heavy weapons and hiding them inside the tunnels that Iranian forces had previously dug in the vicinity of al-Bukamal and al-Mayadin and on the outskirts of Deir ez-Zor.” (Al-Monitor)

01-13-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran has started work on uranium metal-based fuel for a research reactor, the U.N. nuclear watchdog and Tehran said on Wednesday, in the latest breach of its nuclear deal with six major powers as the country presses for a lifting of U.S. sanctions.

Iran has started work on uranium metal-based fuel for a research reactor, the U.N. nuclear watchdog and Tehran said on Wednesday, in the latest breach of its nuclear deal with six major powers as the country presses for a lifting of U.S. sanctions. Iran has been accelerating its breaches of the deal in the past two months. Some of those steps were required by a law passed in response to the killing of its top nuclear scientist in November, which Tehran has blamed on its arch-foe Israel. They are also, however, part of a process started by Tehran in 2019 of committing breaches in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2018 withdrawal from the deal and his reimposition of U.S. sanctions that the deal lifted in exchange for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities. (Reuters)

01-13-2021
Syria Conflict

Iran appears to have sent deadly drones to its allies in Yemen as Middle East tensions heat up across the Red Sea, another major flashpoint where rival forces operate, Newsweek has learned.

Iran appears to have sent deadly drones to its allies in Yemen as Middle East tensions heat up across the Red Sea, another major flashpoint where rival forces operate, Newsweek has learned. Imagery seen by Newsweek and confirmed by an expert who follows Iranian activities in the region indicate the presence of Iranian Shahed-136 loitering munitions, also called "suicide drones," deployed to the northern Yemeni province of Al-Jawf, an area of the country controlled by the Ansar Allah, or Houthi, Zaidi Shiite Muslim rebel movement. "The Iranians have delivered to their Houthi proxies in Yemen advanced UAVs," the expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Newsweek. "They are forward deploying or prepositioning these drones in order to stage an attack against a variety of targets they have within range." (Newsweek)

01-08-2021
Military

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards unveiled an underground missile base at an undisclosed Gulf location, Iranian state media reported.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards unveiled an underground missile base at an undisclosed Gulf location on Friday, Iranian state media reported, at a time of heightened tension between Tehran and the United States. “The base is one of several bases housing the Guards’ Navy’s strategic missiles,” the state media quoted the head of the Guards, Major General Hossein Salami, as saying. Last year, the Guards said Iran had built underground “missile cities” along the Gulf coastline, warning of a “nightmare for Iran’s enemies”. (Reuters)

01-08-2021
Anti-Americanism

Iran’s Supreme Leader banned the government from importing COVID-19 vaccines from the United States and Britain, labelling the Western powers “untrustworthy”, as the infection spreads in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country.

Iran’s Supreme Leader on Friday banned the government from importing COVID-19 vaccines from the United States and Britain, labeling the Western powers “untrustworthy”, as the infection spreads in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country. In a live televised speech, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei raised the prospect of the two Western countries, long-time adversaries of the Islamic Republic, possibly seeking to spread the infection to other countries. He added however that Iran could obtain vaccines “from other reliable places”. He gave no details, but China and Russia are both allies of Iran. (Reuters)

01-07-2021
Anti-Americanism

The commander of the Quds Force, Esmail Qaani, has renewed threats of retaliation against Washington over the assassination of his predecessor, Qassem Soleimani, asserting that it will be done on US soil.

The commander of the Quds Force, Esmail Qaani, has renewed threats of retaliation against Washington over the assassination of his predecessor, Qassem Soleimani, asserting that it will be done on US soil. Qaani said that his troops had already initiated their operations to avenge Soleimani’s death, adding that they will soon reach “endpoint.” Speaking during a ceremony in Soleimani’s hometown, Kerman, Qaani advised US officials to stay indoors, warning that the revenge has begun, according to local media. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

01-05-2021
Syria Conflict

Armed Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops stormed a South Korean tanker and forced the ship to change course and travel to Iran, the vessel’s owner said.

Armed Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops stormed a South Korean tanker and forced the ship to change course and travel to Iran, the vessel’s owner said Tuesday, the latest maritime seizure by Tehran amid heightened tensions with the West over its nuclear program. The military raid on Monday on the MT Hankuk Chemi was at odds with Iranian explanations that they stopped the vessel for polluting the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Instead, it appeared the Islamic Republic sought to increase its leverage over Seoul ahead of negotiations over billions of dollars in Iranian assets frozen in South Korean banks amid a U.S. pressure campaign targeting Iran. An Iranian government spokesman, when asked on Tuesday about the seizure, offered Tehran’s bluntest acknowledgment yet of a link with the frozen assets. (Associated Press)

01-04-2021
Nuclear Program

Iran on Monday resumed 20 percent uranium enrichment at its sensitive Fordow nuclear facility, state media reported — a major step away from a 2015 nuclear deal struck with world powers.

Iran on Monday resumed 20 percent uranium enrichment at its sensitive Fordow nuclear facility, state media reported — a major step away from a 2015 nuclear deal struck with world powers. The move could complicate the incoming Biden administration's plans to restart nuclear talks with Tehran. Iranian forces also seized a South Korean-flagged ship transiting the Persian Gulf. The enrichment process at Fordow — an underground facility near the holy city of Qom — began earlier Monday, government spokesman Ali Rabie said. He said Iran had notified the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog. (Washington Post)

12-29-2020
Syria Conflict

An array of Palestinian militant groups launched rockets into the Mediterranean Sea off the Gaza Strip at the start of what they called their first-ever joint exercise, which Israeli media described as a show of force organized by Iran.

An array of Palestinian militant groups launched rockets into the Mediterranean Sea off the Gaza Strip on Tuesday at the start of what they called their first-ever joint exercise, which Israeli media described as a show of force organised by Iran. Gaza is run by Hamas and also home to other militant groups, including Islamic Jihad. The exercise was announced on behalf of a joint command set up by the groups in 2018. Eight rockets streaked through a cloudless sky in Gaza towards the Mediterranean after Abu Hamza, spokesman for Islamic Jihad, delivered a speech launching the drill. It will include land and coastal exercises described by the groups as a test of their preparedness for any future confrontation with Israel. (Reuters)

12-28-2020
Terrorism

The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah said his group now has twice as many precision-guided missiles as it had a year ago, saying Israel’s efforts to prevent it from acquiring them have failed.

The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah said his group now has twice as many precision-guided missiles as it had a year ago, saying Israel’s efforts to prevent it from acquiring them have failed. Hassan Nasrallah, in an end-of-year interview with the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV, said his group has the capability to strike anywhere in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Nasrallah said that when Israel threatened through a U.S. official to target a Hezbollah facility in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa region, his group warned it would retaliate for any such attack. (Associated Press)

12-28-2020
Syria Conflict

Iran-backed factions in Iraq are increasing their threats against Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and President Barham Salih.

Iran-backed factions in Iraq are increasing their threats against Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and President Barham Salih as the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) deputy chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis draws near. Soleimani and Muhandis were killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport in January 2020. The escalation is taking place despite the outward calls for calm by the pro-Iran factions. Their actions, however, belie their words, prompting observers to speculate that they will continue to forge ahead towards a confrontation as long as relations between Washington and Tehran continue to be strained. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

12-25-2020
Terrorism

The hacking group Pay2Key, which has been linked to Iran, said it hacked the computer systems of the Israeli cyber security company Portnox, days after the same group hacked Israel Aerospace Industries.

The hacking group Pay2Key, which has been linked to Iran, said it hacked the computer systems of the Israeli cyber security company Portnox, days after the same group hacked Israel Aerospace Industries. The hacks were the latest in a series of cyberattacks on Israeli firms in recent months. The hacking group published documents related to firms using Portnox’s services, including Bezeq, Elbit, El Al, the Clalit health provider and more, according to the Ynet news site. The firms are some of Israel’s most prominent companies. (Times of Israel)

12-20-2020
Syria Conflict

Rockets targeted the US embassy in Baghdad in an escalation against US personnel and forces in Iraq.

Rockets targeted the US embassy in Baghdad on Sunday night in an escalation against US personnel and forces in Iraq. It comes a month before the US administration of President Donald Trump will leave office. In the past Iranian-backed militias have targeted US forces and facilities in Iraq with dozens of rocket attacks since May 2019. The attacks reached a crescendo over the summer and then appeared to slow down as the US threatened to close its embassy and strike at Iranian-backed groups. The volley of rockets included at least several rockets fired at the Green Zone in Baghdad. It is not the first attack of its kind but it appears more accurate and larger than past attacks. (Jerusalem Post)

12-18-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran has begun construction on a site at its underground nuclear facility at Fordo amid tensions with the U.S. over its atomic program.

Iran has begun construction on a site at its underground nuclear facility at Fordo amid tensions with the U.S. over its atomic program, satellite photos obtained Friday by The Associated Press show. Iran has not publicly acknowledged any new construction at Fordo, whose discovery by the West in 2009 came in an earlier round of brinkmanship before world powers struck the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. While the purpose of the building remains unclear, any work at Fordo likely will trigger new concern in the waning days of the Trump administration before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Already, Iran is building at its Natanz nuclear facility after a mysterious explosion in July there that Tehran described as a sabotage attack. "Any changes at this site will be carefully watched as a sign of where Iran's nuclear program is headed," said Jeffrey Lewis, an expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies who studies Iran. (CBS News)

12-15-2020
Terrorism

Iran is not conducting its investigation into the downing of a civilian airliner in January properly and many questions remain unanswered.

Iran is not conducting its investigation into the downing of a civilian airliner in January properly and many questions remain unanswered, an independent Canadian report into the tragedy said on Tuesday. The 79-page document is the latest expression of frustration from Western nations into how the Islamic Republic is handling the aftermath of a disaster that claimed 176 lives. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards say they accidentally shot down the Ukraine International Airlines plane shortly after take-off, mistaking it for a missile when tensions with the United States were high. Many of the victims were Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Former Canadian cabinet minister Ralph Goodale, charged with helping the victims’ families and examining how to deal with similar disasters in future, said “many of the key details of this horrific event” remain unknown. (Reuters)

12-15-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran's defense minister has announced that the organization overseeing the military's nuclear research projects will be given a 256 percent budget increase, less than a month after one of its leading scientists was assassinated near Tehran.

Iran's defense minister has announced that the organization overseeing the military's nuclear research projects will be given a 256 percent budget increase, less than a month after one of its leading scientists was assassinated near Tehran. Defense Minister Amir Hatami said Tuesday that the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research—widely known by its Farsi acronym, SPND—will have its annual budget more than trebled, according to the state-run Fars News Agency. The announcement marks another escalation in the international community's nuclear standoff with Iran, and comes despite pressure on Iran to scale back its nuclear activities, and threats from President Donald Trump's outgoing administration that it will not accept a nuclear Iran. (Newsweek)

12-15-2020
Terrorism

The United States designated the Bahrain-based Saraya al-Mukhtar group as a terrorist organization, accusing it of being backed by Iran and of having plotted attacks against U.S. personnel in the Gulf Arab state.

The United States on Tuesday designated the Bahrain-based Saraya al-Mukhtar group as a terrorist organization, accusing it of being backed by Iran and of having plotted attacks against U.S. personnel in the Gulf Arab state. The move, which comes amid a slew of sanctions announced by Washington as President Donald Trump’s term nears a close, designates Saraya al-Mukhtar, a marginal group operating underground, as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist”. Most of the group’s members are in jail or in Iran. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saraya al-Mukhtar, or Mukhtar Brigades, was designated for “posing a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism that threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. (Reuters)

12-14-2020
Extremism

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran’s missile programme, seen by Washington as a threat to regional stability, was non-negotiable and that U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden is “well aware of it”.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that Tehran’s missile programme, seen by Washington as a threat to regional stability, was non-negotiable and that U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden is “well aware of it”. Biden’s victory has raised the possibility that Washington could rejoin a deal Iran reached with world powers in 2015, and he appears to see a return as a prelude to wider talks on Iran’s nuclear work, its ballistic missiles and regional activities. But Tehran has ruled out halting its missile programme or changing its regional policy, and instead has demanded a change in U.S. policy, including the lifting of sanctions and compensation for the economic damage caused during the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear accord. (Reuters)

12-12-2020
Human Rights

Iran executed a dissident, Ruhollah Zam, after convicting him of encouraging a wave of antigovernment protests in 2017 through an opposition Telegram channel he ran from exile in France.

Iran executed a dissident on Saturday after convicting him of encouraging a wave of antigovernment protests in 2017 through an opposition Telegram channel he ran from exile in France, Iranian news outlets reported. Ruhollah Zam ran Amad News, a popular channel on the messaging platform Telegram, which he used to share logistical details about the protests that rocked Iran in late 2017. His posts included protesters’ videos that helped publicize the news of the uprising at a time when the country was trying to suppress information. He had been in exile in France since 2011 and lived there until 2019, when he flew to Iraq and was later captured by the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. He was hanged after being convicted in June of the crime “corruption on earth,” which is often used to describe attempts to overthrow the Iranian government. (New York Times)

12-09-2020
Nuclear Program

The mysterious July explosion that destroyed a centrifuge assembly hall at Iran’s main nuclear fuel enrichment facility in Natanz was deemed by the Iranian authorities to be enemy sabotage.

The mysterious July explosion that destroyed a centrifuge assembly hall at Iran’s main nuclear fuel enrichment facility in Natanz was deemed by the Iranian authorities to be enemy sabotage, and provoked a defiant response: The wrecked building would be rebuilt in “the heart of the mountains,” the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said. Progress on that pledge, which could shield the facility from an aerial assault or other threats, has been unclear to outside observers.  But new satellite imagery is now shedding light on the Iranian plans. The Visual Investigations team of The New York Times has tracked construction at the site using the new imagery. For the first time, new tunnel entrances for underground construction are visible under a ridge in the mountain foothills south of the Natanz facility, about 140 miles south of Tehran. (New York Times)

12-08-2020
Extremism

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran and Damascus share a common goal of confronting Israel and will continue on that path until the Golan Heights has been returned to Syria.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Tehran and Damascus share a common goal of confronting Israel and will continue on that path until the Golan Heights has been returned to Syria. Rouhani’s website said the remarks came during a meeting with visiting Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad. “The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue its support to the Syrian government and people as our strategic ally and we will stand by Syria until its final victory,” Rouhani said, adding that confronting “Zionist occupiers and terrorism” is the joint goal of both nations. (Times of Israel)

12-08-2020
Syria Conflict

United Nations analysis of photos of four anti-tank guided missiles in Libya found that one “had characteristics consistent with the Iranian-produced Dehlavieh” missile, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reported to the Security Council.

A United Nations analysis of photos of four anti-tank guided missiles in Libya found that one “had characteristics consistent with the Iranian-produced Dehlavieh” missile, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reported to the Security Council. However, he said in his biannual report - submitted to the council late Monday and seen by Reuters on Tuesday - that the U.N. secretariat was “unable to ascertain if this anti-tank guided missile had been transferred to Libya” in violation of Security Council sanctions on Iran. The 15-member council banned weapons exports by Iran in 2007. Under a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and key global powers, which is enshrined in a Security Council resolution, the arms restrictions were lifted in October this year. (Reuters)

12-04-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran has told the U.N. nuclear watchdog it plans to install three more cascades, or clusters, of advanced IR-2m centrifuges at its underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.

Iran has told the U.N. nuclear watchdog it plans to install three more cascades, or clusters, of advanced IR-2m centrifuges at its underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, the agency told member states on Friday in a report obtained by Reuters. “Iran informed the Agency that the operator of the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz ‘intends to start installation of three cascades of IR-2m centrifuge machines’ at FEP,” the agency wrote, adding that the three cascades were in addition to one of IR-2m machines already used for enrichment there. (Reuters)

12-03-2020
Nuclear Program

Iranian parliament has voted to increase its uranium enrichment levels and stop International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from examining facilities if the next U.S. administration declines to lift hefty U.S. banking and oil sanctions.

Less than a week after Iran's leading nuclear scientist was assassinated on the outskirts of Tehran, the Iranian parliament has voted to increase its uranium enrichment levels and stop International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from examining facilities if the next U.S. administration declines to lift hefty U.S. banking and oil sanctions by February.  Despite objections from President Hassan Rouhani, who expressed concern over diplomatic damages, the new legislation was ratified by the parliament on Wednesday, according to reports, thus paving the way for Iran to augment its uranium arsenal to levels prior to the 2015 deal.  "The criminal enemy will not feel remorse unless we show a fierce reaction," Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, speaker of Iran's Parliament and a former commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps touted against a chorus of "death to America" and "death to Israel" chants among the lawmakers. (Fox News)

12-03-2020
Human Rights

Nasrin Sotoudeh was sent back to jail despite doctors' determination that she needed to visit a heart clinic and otherwise stay home this week to recover from various health problems.

The husband of an Iranian rights lawyer furloughed from prison last month because of poor health said authorities sent her back to jail Wednesday despite doctors' determination that she needed to visit a heart clinic and otherwise stay home this week to recover from various health problems. In a Wednesday interview with VOA Persian from their home in Tehran, Reza Khandan said his wife, Nasrin Sotoudeh, received a phone call earlier in the day from Qarchak prison in the southeast of the capital ordering her to report to the jail immediately. He said she went to the prison later Wednesday, abruptly ending a furlough that authorities granted her on November 7 to recover from respiratory and cardiac problems related to her recent hunger strikes in detention. Sotoudeh has been jailed since June 2018 for her legal work in defending women’s rights activists who were arrested for removing their hijabs in public defiance of Iran’s Islamist laws. Rights activists have said Sotoudeh is serving a prison sentence of more than 30 years and must complete 12 years before being eligible for parole. (Voice of America)

12-03-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran will not renegotiate the nuclear accord it reached with world powers, its foreign minister said, drawing a line in the sand ahead of Joe Biden’s assumption of the U.S. presidency.

Iran will not renegotiate the nuclear accord it reached with world powers, its foreign minister said, drawing a line in the sand ahead of Joe Biden’s assumption of the U.S. presidency. By walking out of an agreement anchored in a United Nations resolution, the U.S. is not in a position to impose conditions, Mohammad Javad Zarif told a virtual Rome conference on foreign affairs on Thursday. “The United States must cease its violations of international law, it doesn’t require any negotiations,” Zarif said. “We will not renegotiate a deal which we negotiated. The deal was about give and take, it wasn’t about one side asking and the other side giving.” (Bloomberg)

12-02-2020
Syria Conflict

Iran has sent arms and dispatched paramilitary operatives to help Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro maintain his hold on power, the top U.S. military commander for Central and South America said.

Iran has sent arms and dispatched paramilitary operatives to help Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro maintain his hold on power, the top U.S. military commander for Central and South America said Wednesday. “We see a growing Iranian influence in there,” Adm. Craig Faller, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, told reporters, citing the “alarming and concerning” presence of military personnel from the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Tehran has used the force to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other foreign allies and proxies. Iran’s and Venezuela’s missions to the United Nations didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. (Wall Street Journal)

12-01-2020
Human Rights

Swedish-Iranian scientist Ahmadreza Djalali, sentenced to death in Iran on espionage charges, may face imminent execution, rights groups said.

Swedish-Iranian scientist Ahmadreza Djalali, sentenced to death in Iran on espionage charges, may face imminent execution, rights groups said on Tuesday. “On 1 December, a judge said Ahmadreza was to be transferred to Rajai Shahr prison TODAY to proceed with his imminent execution,” Amnesty International said on Twitter. “His lawyer was informed that Ahmadreza would be transferred to Rajai Shahr Prison ... today (Tuesday, Dec. 1),” Iran Human Rights said in a statement, quoting his wife Vida Mehrannia. (Reuters)

11-25-2020
Human Rights

Iran is intensifying its campaign of harassment against its Baha’i religious minority, carrying out what appears to be one of the largest coordinated raids of Baha’i homes in the Islamist-ruled country this year.

Iran is intensifying its campaign of harassment against its Baha’i religious minority, carrying out what appears to be one of the largest coordinated raids of Baha’i homes in the Islamist-ruled country this year, according to knowledgeable sources. Iran-based Baha’i sources told VOA's Persian Service that security forces raided the homes of around 50 Baha’i families on Sunday. They said the raids happened in different regions of the country, including the northern cities of Tehran, Karaj and Shahriar, the northern province of Mazandaran and the central province of Isfahan. Sources said the Iranian agents searched residences and seized personal documents and digital devices such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones. They said the agents also told some of the Baha’is whose homes were raided to report to local intelligence offices. (Voice of America)

11-19-2020
Military

Iran said it added a warship capable of carrying helicopters, drone aircraft and missiles to its fleet, signaling an intent to extend its naval influence beyond its native Persian Gulf.

Iran said it added a warship capable of carrying helicopters, drone aircraft and missiles to its fleet, signaling an intent to extend its naval influence beyond its native Persian Gulf. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps detailed the 150-meter-long Shahid Rudaki in a statement on its website, Sepah news reported. The IRGC’s naval fleet is mostly made up of small speed boats deployed close to Iranian shores and around the Strait of Hormuz. The Shahid Rudaki will improve the security of Iran’s maritime transportation lines, according to the statement. (Bloomberg)

11-18-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran has admitted a further breach of the 2015 nuclear deal by firing up advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges installed at its underground plant at Natanz.

Iran has admitted a further breach of the 2015 nuclear deal by firing up advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges installed at its underground plant at Natanz. The finding was made by the UN nuclear weapons inspectorate, the International Atomic Energy Association, and confirmed by the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA. Donald Trump last week considered but rejected a military strike on Natanz, south of Tehran and the country’s main uranium-enrichment site. But the latest move by Iran may be regarded by his administration as a provocation that changes his, or Israel’s, calculation of risk. The development comes weeks ahead of him standing down and being replaced by Joe Biden, who is committed to re-entering the nuclear deal struck under Barack Obama. (The Guardian)

11-17-2020
Syria Conflict

Three rockets, apparently fired by an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia, landed in the U.S. Embassy complex within Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone.

Three rockets, apparently fired by an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia, landed in the U.S. Embassy complex within Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone late Tuesday, amid rising tensions with Iran in the waning days of the Trump administration. A U.S. military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity in advance of a formal statement, said initial reports indicated there had been no injuries to U.S. personnel or damage to American facilities. Another rocket reportedly landed elsewhere in the zone, and the Iraqi army said in a statement that another three fell outside the area, killing a young child and wounding five Iraqi civilians. The attack came as President Trump has consulted with top members of his national security team about a possible strike on Iran following reports of a sharp expansion in its uranium enrichment program. (Washington Post)

11-13-2020
Terrorism

Al Qaeda’s second-highest leader, accused of being one of the masterminds of the deadly 1998 attacks on American embassies in Africa, was killed in Iran three months ago,.

Al Qaeda’s second-highest leader, accused of being one of the masterminds of the deadly 1998 attacks on American embassies in Africa, was killed in Iran three months ago, intelligence officials have confirmed. Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who went by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was gunned down on the streets of Tehran by two assassins on a motorcycle on Aug. 7, the anniversary of the embassy attacks. He was killed along with his daughter, Miriam, the widow of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden. The attack was carried out by Israeli operatives at the behest of the United States, according to four of the officials. It is unclear what role if any was played by the United States, which had been tracking the movements of Mr. al-Masri and other Qaeda operatives in Iran for years. (New York Times)

11-11-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran has finished moving a first cascade of advanced centrifuges from an above-ground plant at its main uranium enrichment site to an underground one in a fresh breach of its nuclear deal with big powers.

Iran has finished moving a first cascade of advanced centrifuges from an above-ground plant at its main uranium enrichment site to an underground one in a fresh breach of its nuclear deal with big powers, a U.N. atomic watchdog report showed on Wednesday. The transfer to the underground plant apparently built to withstand aerial bombardment was done in response to the burning down of an above-ground centrifuge-building workshop at Natanz in July, which Tehran has called an act of sabotage. It also slowed Iran’s output of enriched uranium, the report showed. The move was the latest of many deliberate breaches by Iran of its 2015 deal with major powers in response to Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from the landmark accord and its reimposition of sanctions against Tehran. The deal says the underground plant at Natanz can only be used for first-generation IR-1 machines. (Reuters)

11-11-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran is continuing to build up its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and now holds roughly 12 times the amount permitted under the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Iran is continuing to build up its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and now holds roughly 12 times the amount permitted under the 2015 nuclear agreement, the United Nations Atomic Agency said in a report. The report’s findings underscore the challenge the incoming Biden administration faces in persuading Iran to fully return to the 2015 nuclear deal: Besides the stockpile of low-enriched uranium, which when further refined can be used to fuel a nuclear weapon, Iran is also taking steps to potentially accelerate its production of low-enriched uranium and is continuing its nuclear research. (Wall Street Journal)

11-05-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iran’s regime thinks the next US administration will “surrender” to them and return to the Iran deal, according to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Iran’s regime thinks the next US administration will “surrender” to them and return to the Iran deal, according to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. In a speech on Thursday about the Islamic Republic’s successes in improving its water infrastructure, he slammed the US. “The gentleman in the White House ruthlessly increased sanctions,” Rouhani said, referring to US President Donald Trump. This was an “economic war” that harmed Iran during the COVID-19 crisis, he said.  “They [the US] did not adhere to any principles: neither human-rights principles nor international law,” Rouhani said. “At the same time, I am confident that the Iranian nation will eventually win. It does not matter what the outcome of the US election is tonight or tomorrow, and whose power is in anyone’s hands. There is no doubt that the future US administration will succumb to the will of the Iranian people.” (Jerusalem Post)

11-04-2020
Terrorism

Federal officials said they seized 27 websites linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for allegedly posing as news outlets to spread disinformation.

Federal officials said they seized 27 websites linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for allegedly posing as news outlets to spread disinformation. Wednesday’s actions follow the seizure of 92 Iranian domains in October, part of the U.S. government’s ongoing efforts to combat foreign disinformation in U.S. elections. The sites were targeted at American audiences, though some of the sites listed in the affidavit are entirely in Arabic or focused on news in the Middle East, according to archives seen by Bloomberg. “The anti-U.S., anti-Saudi and anti-Israeli material being promoted is in line with Iranian foreign policy and similar to previously identified Iranian covert influence campaigns,” according to a federal affidavit. “Also consistent with known Iranian covert influence campaigns, the network accomplishes Iranian propaganda objectives by manipulating U.S. public discourse and sowing discord in the American people through use of U.S. social media platforms and inauthentic news media outlets.” (Bloomberg)

11-04-2020
Military

Iran has shown off a new long-range missile system that, when launched, would cause the foes of the Islamic Republic to tremble, according to one of the country's most senior military officials.

Iran has shown off a new long-range missile system that, when launched, would cause the foes of the Islamic Republic to tremble, according to one of the country's most senior military officials. Major General Hossein Salami, commander of the elite Revolutionary Guard, unveiled the system, which involves a complex, apparently underground series of rails to rapidly transport, fuel and fire off consecutive missiles. He issued a warning to foreign adversaries. "Our enemies are facing a decline in power, and with each passing day, the slope of this decline is accelerating," Salami said, "but the enemy's threats still remain." (Newsweek)

11-02-2020
Terrorism

Iranian hackers who sent a barrage of threatening emails to US voters last month were successful in accessing voter data from at least one state.

Iranian hackers who sent a barrage of threatening emails to US voters last month were successful in accessing voter data from at least one state, according to a joint statement issued late last Friday by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Although the state was not identified, alleged personal details of Alaska voters were briefly flashed in a video released by the hackers. The video accompanied a campaign that sent thousands of threatening emails to US voters disguised as a far-right pro-Trump group. The security breach is the latest attempt targeting the 2020 US elections, US intelligence officials warned, including attempts to hit the campaigns of President Donald Trump and his opponent, Joe Biden. (Al-Monitor)

10-29-2020
Terrorism

Hackers with links to the Iranian government have launched a cyber-attack against attendees of two upcoming international security conferences, according to information released by Microsoft.

Hackers with links to the Iranian government have launched a cyber-attack against attendees of two upcoming international security conferences, according to information released by Microsoft yesterday. The attendees include former ambassadors and other senior policy experts, with Microsoft suggesting that the perpetrators have engaged in the "attacks for intelligence collection purposes." Known as Phosphorus, the group behind the attacks has suspected links to the Iranian government. It sent fake invitation emails to around 100 potential attendees of the Munich Security Conference and the Think 20 (T20) Summit in Saudi Arabia. According to Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Customer Security and Trust, Tom Burt, the "emails use near-perfect English and were sent to former government officials, policy experts, academics and leaders from non-governmental organizations." (Forbes)

10-28-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran has begun construction at its Natanz nuclear facility, satellite images show, just as the U.N. nuclear agency acknowledged Tehran is building an underground advanced centrifuge assembly plant after its last one exploded in a reported sabotage attack

Iran has begun construction at its Natanz nuclear facility, satellite images released Wednesday show, just as the U.N. nuclear agency acknowledged Tehran is building an underground advanced centrifuge assembly plant after its last one exploded in a reported sabotage attack last summer. The construction comes as the U.S. nears Election Day in a campaign pitting President Donald Trump, whose maximum pressure campaign against Iran has led Tehran to abandon all limits on its atomic program, and Joe Biden, who has expressed a willingness to return to the accord. The outcome of the vote likely will decide which approach America takes. Heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. nearly ignited a war at the start of the year. Since August, Iran has built a new or regraded road to the south of Natanz toward what analysts believe is a former firing range for security forces at the enrichment facility, images from San Francisco-based Planet Labs Inc. show. (Associated Press)

10-28-2020
Human Rights

A senior member of Iran's medical association says the country's death toll from the coronavirus is three to four times the official number released by the government.

A senior member of Iran's medical association says the country's death toll from the coronavirus is three to four times the official number released by the government, the latest warning from Iranian doctors who are urging political leaders to take more aggressive action to contain the pandemic. Hossein Gheshlaghi, a senior member of Iran's Supreme Medical Council, a non-governmental professional association that licenses doctors, made the extraordinary assertion as the Iranian government faced another spike in infections. Gheshlaghi's comments follow a series of statements and letters from the professional association since March urging the government to follow scientific advice and to provide more resources for medical staff on the frontlines of the crisis. (NBC News)

10-27-2020
Human Rights

Iran has imposed harsh sentences on 36 residents of a southwestern city who joined the nation’s last major wave of anti-government protests in November 2019.

Iran has imposed harsh sentences on 36 residents of a southwestern city who joined the nation’s last major wave of anti-government protests in November 2019, according to a knowledgeable source who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation. Speaking to VOA from Iran on Friday, the source said the 36 protesters from Behbahan in Khuzestan province were handed their sentences by the city’s criminal court October 22. The source said the defendants were sentenced to a cumulative total of 109 years in prison and 2,590 lashes, while each individual was fined more than 3 million tomans, equivalent to roughly $700.  A copy of the verdict, provided by the source and verified by VOA Persian, showed the protesters were convicted of disturbing public order, disobeying security agents and vandalizing public property. (Voice of America)

10-22-2020
Terrorism

Government analysts and private sector investigators were able to rapidly attribute to Iranian hackers a wave of thousands of threatening emails aimed at U.S. voters because of mistakes made in a video attached to some of the messages.

Government analysts and private sector investigators were able to rapidly attribute to Iranian hackers a wave of thousands of threatening emails aimed at U.S. voters because of mistakes made in a video attached to some of the messages, according to four people familiar with the matter. Those failures provided a rare opportunity for the U.S. government to identify and publicly announce blame for a malicious cyber operation in a matter of days, something that usually requires months of technical analysis and supporting intelligence. “Either they made a dumb mistake or wanted to get caught,” said a senior U.S. government official, who asked not to be identified. “We are not concerned about this activity being some kind of false flag due to other supporting evidence. This was Iran.” (Reuters)

10-22-2020
Terrorism

The United States has sanctioned five Iranian groups that it says attempted to interfere in the upcoming presidential election between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

The United States has sanctioned five Iranian groups that it says attempted to interfere in the upcoming presidential election between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden. In a statement on Thursday, the US Department of the Treasury said it designated Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the IRGC’s Quds Force, and the Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute “for having directly or indirectly engaged in, sponsored, concealed, or otherwise been complicit in foreign interference” in the November 3 election. It also designated the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union and International Union of Virtual Media “for being owned or controlled by” the IRGC’s Quds Force, the department said. “The Iranian regime uses false narratives and other misleading content to attempt to influence U.S. elections,” Steven Mnuchin, the US treasury secretary, said in the statement. (Al-Jazeera)

10-21-2020
Extremism

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at the idea of Muslim nations compromising with Israel, calling it a “humiliation,” and issued an ominous warning to nations seeking to normalize ties with the Jewish state.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at the idea of Muslim nations compromising with Israel, calling it a “humiliation,” and issued an ominous warning to nations seeking to normalize ties with the Jewish state. “Muslim nations will never accept the humiliation of compromising with the Zionist regime,” Khamenei tweeted Tuesday. In recent months, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain became the first Arab nations to establish relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. Israeli and American officials have expressed hope that other Gulf Arab countries will soon follow suit, with relations based on mutual commercial and security interests and shared enmity toward Iran. (Times of Israel)

10-21-2020
Human Rights

In Tehran, a court has upheld a sentence against Alireza Alinejad, the brother of the outspoken women's rights activist's Masih Alinejad, his attorney said.

In Tehran, a court has upheld a sentence against Alireza Alinejad, the brother of the outspoken women's rights activist's Masih Alinejad, his attorney said. "Branch 36 of the Appeals Court in Tehran province has upheld eight-year jail sentence for Alireza Alinejad, regardless of our objections," says Alireza's lawyer, Saeed Dehghan, adding, "I have decided to publish the defense bills soon." Alireza Alinejad is the brother of Masih Alinejad, an opposition activist in the United States. She has initiated popular campaigns against compulsory hijab in Iran. (Radio Farda)

10-21-2020
Military

As Iran faces pressure imposed both from external powers and regional unrest, the country's armed forces have staged a massive set of war games demonstrating their capabilities to protect the skies of the Islamic Republic.

As Iran faces pressure imposed both from external powers and regional unrest, the country's armed forces have staged a massive set of war games demonstrating their capabilities to protect the skies of the Islamic Republic. The drills came as the neighboring Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict occasionally spills over Iran's northwestern border, giving Iran an opportunity to flex its military muscle through impressive displays of firepower. The fiery exhibition provided an additional bonus for Tehran. With the lifting of a longstanding UN embargo against arms sales, the military exercises have allowed the country's defense industry to showcase a variety of domestically produced weapons that they are now free to sell to other countries. (Newsweek)

10-18-2020
Syria Conflict

Supporters of the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi, an Iraqi Shi’ite militia group, set fire to the offices of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Baghdad.

Supporters of the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi, an Iraqi Shi’ite militia group, set fire Saturday to the offices of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Baghdad. The protesters in the Iraqi capital were upset by comments made by a senior KDP official. Ex-foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said earlier this month that the government should “clean up” Baghdad’s Green Zone “from the presence of Hashd militias.” He said their ouster was an “essential task” as they are operating “outside the law.” The U.S. State Department issued a statement about the attack on the KDP offices by Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. (Voice of America)

10-16-2020
Terrorism

Iranian hackers contracted by the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps targeted prominent Israeli companies in a series of ransomware attacks.

Iranian hackers contracted by the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps targeted prominent Israeli companies in a series of ransomware attacks last month, a pair of cybersecurity firms reported Thursday. The attacks were attributed to “MuddyWater,” which Microsoft exposed earlier this month as a contractor for the IRGC — designated by both Israel and the US as a terror group. Dubbing the Iranian effort “Operation Quicksand,” the Clearsky and Profero cybersecurity firms said they “uncovered the first known instance of a potentially destructive attack executed by MuddyWater, focusing on prominent organizations in Israel and in other countries around the world.” (Times of Israel)

10-08-2020
Military

Iran heralded an anti-ship ballistic missile as a strategic game-changer for the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf regions.

Iran heralded an anti-ship ballistic missile as a strategic game-changer for the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf regions. The missile has a range up to 700 km., and Iran’s Fars News says it is a “new long arm” for the Islamic Republic. It was showcased during an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps exhibit on the strength of the IRGC aerospace force. Iran has continued to show off new radars, drones and missiles in recent weeks, sending clear messages that are meant to threaten the US and its allies in the region. (Jerusalem Post)

10-08-2020
Terrorism

U.S. prosecutors have seized a network of web domains which they said were used in a campaign by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to spread political disinformation around the world.

U.S. prosecutors have seized a network of web domains which they said were used in a campaign by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to spread political disinformation around the world. In a statement released late on Wednesday, the Justice Department said it had taken control of 92 domains used by the IRGC to pose as independent media outlets targeting audiences in the United States, Europe, Middle East and South East Asia. “Today we are 92 domains closer to shutting down Iran’s worldwide disinformation campaign,” said U.S. Attorney David Anderson. “Iran cannot be allowed to hide behind fake news sites.” (Reuters)

10-01-2020
Syria Conflict

Turkey and Iran are increasingly adopting "game-changing" drones as their weapon of choice against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, prompting fears for the safety of civilians and stoking geopolitical tensions.

Turkey and Iran are increasingly adopting "game-changing" drones as their weapon of choice against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, prompting fears for the safety of civilians and stoking geopolitical tensions. "Not a day goes by without us seeing a drone," said Mohammad Hassan, mayor of Qandil, the mountainous Iraqi stronghold of Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). "They fly so low Qandil's residents can see them with their naked eye," Hassan told AFP. (AFP)

10-01-2020
Syria Conflict

A captured gang of arms smugglers has revealed how Iran supplies weapons to Houthi militias in Yemen through a base in Somalia.

A captured gang of arms smugglers has revealed how Iran supplies weapons to Houthi militias in Yemen through a base in Somalia. The Houthis exploit poverty in Yemen to recruit fishermen as weapons smugglers, and send fighters to Iran for military training under cover of “humanitarian” flights from Yemen to Oman, the gang said. The four smugglers have been interrogated since May, when they were arrested with a cache of weapons in Bab Al-Mandab, the strategic strait joining the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. (Arab News)

09-30-2020
Syria Conflict

Iran has spent nearly $20 billion pushing its controversial foreign policy objectives in the region, the deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said in an interview on state television.

Iran has spent nearly $20 billion pushing its controversial foreign policy objectives in the region, the deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said in an interview on state television. Speaking to state TV channel Ofogh on September 26, Ali Fadavi said Iran had spent $19.6 billion on the 1980-1988 war with Iraq while adding that the cost for Iran's regional policies -- on such things as proxy armies and military aid in countries like Syria, Iraq, and Yemen -- was less than that. He added he could not remember the precise amount. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

09-29-2020
Military

Iran held an exhibition of its missiles and drones that showcased its successes in recent years.

Iran held an exhibition of its missiles and drones over the weekend that showcased its successes in recent years. The exhibition is supposed to show the successes the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps aerial power. The show was open to government leaders and apparently the public, with the regime trying to show off its greatness ahead of the end of an arms embargo. Basically Tehran was saying: Look what we made despite the sanctions. The exhibit included the Fateh, Zlfiqar, Sajil and Shahab missiles, and others that Fars News called Qadr, Nazeat, Khorramshahr, Emad, Dezful and Ra’ad 500, as well as the older versions of the Scud missile. In all there were 15 Iranian missiles on display. Mobile launchers were also on display, showing how Iran moves the missiles around and can fire them from multiple locations. One of these locations appeared to be a missile hidden inside a sea container, suggesting this is how Iran moves missiles to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and maybe even to Yemen. (Jerusalem Post)

09-29-2020
Terrorism

Saudi Arabia said it dismantled a terrorist cell with ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Saudi Arabia said it dismantled a terrorist cell with ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the latest indication of heightened tensions in the Middle East as the two longtime rivals compete for regional supremacy. Saudi security forces arrested 10 people on Sept. 23, including three the kingdom said had received military training and instruction in making bombs in late 2017 at sites in Iran belonging to the Guards, the Saudi national security agency said late Monday. It didn’t identify the suspects, citing continuing investigations. The agency, known as the State Security Presidency, said it had seized nine improvised explosive devices and more than five kilograms of gunpowder, along with fuses, chemicals and electronics used in bomb-making. Photographs published in Saudi media showed a cache of arms including assault rifles, scopes and thousands of rounds of ammunition as well as military uniforms that had been confiscated at a house and a farm being used as storage sites. (Wall Street Journal)

09-26-2020
Military

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Navy Commander revealed new information about the surveillance and detection of a US strike group, including USS Nimitz aircraft carrier.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Navy Commander revealed on Friday new information about the surveillance and detection of a US strike group, including USS Nimitz aircraft carrier. Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri told Iranian television that the US carriers were monitored by the army’s naval forces and IRGC’s navy under the supervision of the General Staff of the Armed Forces and the leadership of Khatam al-Anbiya Central Headquarters. He said Iran monitored the US naval forces by air and by sea, adding that the flotilla has not entered the Gulf area for the past 10 months. “IRGC forces detected the US strike group. The Iran forces contacted them and asked them some questions,” Tangsiri said, confirming that the US forces responded to the Iranian inquiries. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

09-24-2020
Human Rights

The international community must do everything in its power to stop Iranian authorities from amputating the fingers of four men convicted of robbery following forced “confessions” and grossly unfair trials, said Amnesty International.

The international community must do everything in its power to stop Iranian authorities from amputating the fingers of four men convicted of robbery following forced “confessions” and grossly unfair trials, said Amnesty International today. According to information obtained by the organization, the sentences against the four men, Hadi Rostami (33), Mehdi Sharfian (37), Mehdi Shahivand (42) and Kasra Karami (40), have been upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court and referred to the Centre for the Implementation of Sentences. The sentences may be carried out at any moment. The four men, currently held in Urumieh prison in West Azerbaijan province, are sentenced to “have four fingers on their right hands completely cut off so that only the palm of their hands and their thumbs are left”, as per the punishment stipulated for certain types of robbery under Article 278 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code. (Amnesty International)

09-24-2020
Military

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps opened a new naval base along one of the world’s busiest oil transit routes on the Persian Gulf.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps opened a new naval base along one of the world’s busiest oil transit routes on the Persian Gulf as frictions with the U.S. and its allies in the region loom over security in the waterway. The Shaheed Rahbari base near the port of Sirik, on the eastern side of the Strait of Hormuz, took six years to build and will give Iran “full control” of various vessels that use the channel, the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, a report on Press TV’s website said, citing an opening ceremony attended by IRGC commander Major General Hossein Salami. “The country’s combat operations, ship operations, reconnaissance as well as defensive and offensive operations in the Persian Gulf will further develop,” Salami was quoted as saying on Thursday. (Bloomberg)

09-23-2020
Syria Conflict

A senior spokesman for the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces says Iran plans to fortify Syria's air defense.

A senior spokesman for the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces says Iran plans to fortify Syria's air defense. Speaking to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)-linked Fars news agency, Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said on Tuesday, September 22 that Syria made the request during the recent visit of the Chief of General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, IRGC Major General Mohammad Baqeri, to Damascus, and as a result, "we have a contract with the Syrian government." Shekarchi stopped short of going into the details of the contract. (Radio Farda)

09-23-2020
Military

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard force has managed to fly a surveillance drone over the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier.

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard force has managed to fly a surveillance drone over the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier which last week transited through the Strait of Hormuz, an Iranian news agency said Wednesday. The semi-official Tasnim news agency, which is considered close to the paramilitary Guard, published images of the Nimitz, saying they were taken by Iranian-made drones, and showing fighter planes parked on the carrier’s deck. The Nimitz, and several other warships, passed last Friday through the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important chokepoint for oil shipments, the U.S. Navy had said in what was described as a “scheduled maneuver.” (Associated Press)

09-22-2020
Anti-Americanism

“President [Donald] Trump ordered the assassination of a national hero for Iran and a hero for the region,” said Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of the killing of powerful Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike back in January.

“President [Donald] Trump ordered the assassination of a national hero for Iran and a hero for the region,” said Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of the killing of powerful Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike back in January. The attack on Soleimani’s convoy outside Baghdad’s International Airport also left several others dead, including pro-Iran Shiite commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.  Addressing a virtual meeting of the US-based think tank Council on Foreign Relations, Zarif called the killing “a great mistake” by the United States, adding that “the book” on Iran’s retaliatory measures “is not closed.” However, he noted, “I’m not in the business of making threats,” suggesting that any decisions about retaliation lie with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is constitutionally the commander-in-chief and holds the ultimate authority over all sensitive foreign policy matters. (Al-Monitor)

09-22-2020
Terrorism

An arms depot of the Iran-backed Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah exploded in southern Lebanon.

An arms depot of the Iran-backed Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah exploded in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, a security source said, injuring several people and sending a new shockwave across a nation grappling with its deepest crisis in three decades. The security source said the arms depot blast, which sent a huge column of black smoke into the sky, was caused by a “technical error”. The explosion rocked the village of Ain Qana in south Lebanon, a region that is a political stronghold of the heavily armed and politically powerful group which has fought wars with neighbouring Israel. (Reuters)

09-21-2020
Anti-Americanism

The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said his country is capable of setting fire to all US bases in the Gulf “at once,” according to an interview on state TV.

The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said his country is capable of setting fire to all US bases in the Gulf “at once” , according to an interview on state TV. General Hossein Salami, the commander of the IRGC - the most powerful and influential branch of Iran’s armed forces - said the US army “is exhausted and doesn’t have the power” to start a ground war with the Islamic Republic. He also ridiculed a US bid to forcibly restore United Nations sanctions on Iran. (Gulf News)

09-19-2020
Anti-Americanism

The chief of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard threatened to go after everyone who had a role in a top general’s January killing during a U.S. drone strike in Iraq.

The chief of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard threatened Saturday to go after everyone who had a role in a top general’s January killing during a U.S. drone strike in Iraq. The guard’s website quoted Gen. Hossein Salami as saying, “Mr. Trump! Our revenge for martyrdom of our great general is obvious, serious and real.” U.S. President Donald Trump warned this week that Washington would harshly respond to any Iranian attempts to take revenge for the death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, tweeting that “if they hit us in any way, any form, written instructions already done we’re going to hit them 1000 times harder.” (Associated Press)

09-18-2020
Terrorism

Iranian hackers, most likely employees or affiliates of the government, have been running a vast cyberespionage operation equipped with surveillance tools that can outsmart encrypted messaging systems.

Iranian hackers, most likely employees or affiliates of the government, have been running a vast cyberespionage operation equipped with surveillance tools that can outsmart encrypted messaging systems — a capability Iran was not previously known to possess, according to two digital security reports released Friday. The operation not only targets domestic dissidents, religious and ethnic minorities and antigovernment activists abroad, but can also be used to spy on the general public inside Iran, said the reports by Check Point Software Technologies, a cybersecurity technology firm, and the Miaan Group, a human rights organization that focuses on digital security in the Middle East. The reports, which were reviewed by The New York Times in advance of their release, say that the hackers have successfully infiltrated what were thought to be secure mobile phones and computers belonging to the targets, overcoming obstacles created by encrypted applications such as Telegram and, according to Miaan, even gaining access to information on WhatsApp. Both are popular messaging tools in Iran. The hackers also have created malware disguised as Android applications, the reports said. (New York Times)

09-17-2020
Terrorism

Iranian hackers targeted aerospace and satellite technology companies at the behest of the country’s military, according to an indictment unsealed in federal court in Alexandria.

Iranian hackers targeted aerospace and satellite technology companies at the behest of the country’s military, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday in federal court in Alexandria. Prosecutors say one of the three accused, 34-year-old Said Pourkarim Arabi, is a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite Iranian security force that is designated by the United States as a terrorist group. Another is the head of a hacking collective called the Iranian Dark Coders Team, according to the indictment. Arabi and the other two people are accused of using social engineering, rather than sophisticated hacking techniques, to steal sensitive information. Pretending to be employees at the companies, they would entice real staffers or associates to click links that would give the hackers access to private files. (Washington Post)

09-15-2020
Syria Conflict

The Yemeni National Resistance Forces have thwarted another attempt to smuggle quantities of weapons and equipment by a cell of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, with the aim of delivering them to Al Houthi terrorists.

The Yemeni National Resistance Forces have thwarted another attempt to smuggle quantities of weapons and equipment by a cell of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, with the aim of delivering them to Al Houthi terrorists, local media reported. Coast Guard forces in the Red Sea sector were able to intercept a boat at sea, and arrested members of the smuggling cell, who are Houthis associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and operate within the weapons-smuggling network, Al Watan newspaper said. The Iranian regime’s support of its proxy in Yemen serves to prolong the war and destabilise the region, and is in violation of international law, officials and activists warn. (Gulf News)

09-15-2020
Terrorism

Two men have been indicted on charges stemming from the hacking of dozens of websites based in the United States, actions that the federal authorities said were taken in retaliation for the death in an American drone strike of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

Two men have been indicted on charges stemming from the hacking of dozens of websites based in the United States, actions that the federal authorities said were taken in retaliation for the death in an American drone strike of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran. The men, Behzad Mohammadzadeh and Marwan Abusrour, were charged with conspiracy to commit intentional damage to a protected computer and intentional damage to a protected computer, according to the indictment, which was dated Sept. 3 and unsealed on Tuesday. Mr. Mohammadzadeh, a citizen of Iran who the authorities believe is about 19 years old, and Mr. Abusrour, who is about 25 and whom the indictment identifies as “a stateless national of the Palestinian Authority,” are believed to be in their home countries. (New York Times)

09-14-2020
Nuclear Program

The head of Iran's atomic agency said that 1,044 centrifuges were active at the Fordow uranium enrichment plant, in line with steps to reduce its commitments to the nuclear deal.

The head of Iran's atomic agency said Sunday that 1,044 centrifuges were active at the Fordow uranium enrichment plant, in line with steps to reduce its commitments to the nuclear deal. The suspension of all enrichment at the underground facility near the Shiite holy city of Qom was one of the restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities that it accepted in return for the lifting of international sanctions in the 2015 landmark accord. Tehran first announced the resumption of enrichment at Fordow last November, the fourth phase of its push since May 2019 to progressively suspend commitments to the deal. (Radio Farda)

09-13-2020
Terrorism

The Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against the American ambassador to South Africa.

The Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against the American ambassador to South Africa, U.S. intelligence reports say, according to a U.S. government official familiar with the issue and another official who has seen the intelligence. News of the plot comes as Iran continues to seek ways to retaliate for President Donald Trump’s decision to kill a powerful Iranian general earlier this year, the officials said. If carried out, it could dramatically ratchet up already serious tensions between the U.S. and Iran and create enormous pressure on Trump to strike back — possibly in the middle of a tense election season. U.S. officials have been aware of a general threat against the ambassador, Lana Marks, since the spring, the officials said. But the intelligence about the threat to the ambassador has become more specific in recent weeks. The Iranian Embassy in Pretoria is involved in the plot, the U.S. government official said. (Politico)

09-12-2020
Human Rights

Iran said that it had executed a 27-year-old wrestler accused of murder after he took part in antigovernment protests two years ago, a case that set off a campaign by international sports groups to demand clemency for the athlete.

Iran said Saturday that it had executed a 27-year-old wrestler accused of murder after he took part in antigovernment protests two years ago, a case that set off a campaign by international sports groups to demand clemency for the athlete. The wrestler, Navid Afkari, was executed on Saturday morning at a prison in the southern city of Shiraz, his lawyers confirmed. Mr. Afkari was accused of fatally stabbing a water-utility worker amid unrest in his home city, Shiraz, a center of the antigovernment protests that swept the country in 2018. The charges against him had been met with widespread skepticism in Iran and abroad, with many government critics saying he was being used as an example to silence dissent. In an audiotape smuggled from prison, Mr. Afkari said he had been tortured until he falsely confessed to the crime. (New York Times)

09-08-2020
Human Rights

A British-Iranian woman held for years in Iran after being detained in 2016 while visiting family is set to face additional charges.

A British-Iranian woman held for years in Iran after being detained in 2016 while visiting family is set to face additional charges, Iranian state television announced on Tuesday, a move that could deepen the diplomatic impasse in the case. The woman, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 41, was sentenced to five years in prison after the Iranian authorities accused her of plotting to overthrow Iran’s government — charges that she, her family and international rights groups have long denied. According to an Iranian state television website, which cited an unnamed official, Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her lawyer were informed this morning of a “new indictment.” No further details about the additional charges were mentioned. (New York Times)

09-07-2020
Human Rights

Abolhassan Firoozabadi, the secretary of Iran's Supreme Council of Cyberspace (ISCC), says that if Internet platforms are not compatible with the laws and standards of the Islamic Republic, they will be censored.

Abolhassan Firoozabadi, the secretary of Iran's Supreme Council of Cyberspace (ISCC), says that if Internet platforms are not compatible with the laws and standards of the Islamic Republic, they will be censored. Firoozabadi said on Sunday that filters may be implemented on Internet content "if the platforms do not comply with Iranian law" or "create cultural, social, political and security issues" for Iran. Speaking on a TV show, Firoozabad praised China as a successful "model" in censoring the Internet for its citizens, which it implemented through simulating applications and tools, he noted. (Radio Farda)

09-01-2020
Extremism

The United Arab Emirates has betrayed the Islamic world and the Palestinians by reaching a deal toward normalizing ties with Israel, Iran’s top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said.

The United Arab Emirates has betrayed the Islamic world and the Palestinians by reaching a deal toward normalising ties with Israel, Iran’s top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday. “Of course, the UAE’s betrayal will not last long, but this stigma will always be remembered. They allowed the Zionist regime to have a foothold in the region and forgot Palestine,” Khamenei said in a speech. “The Emiratis will be disgraced forever for this treachery against the Islamic world, Arab nations and Palestine.” (Reuters)

08-28-2020
Nuclear Program

The domestic intelligence agency for the German state of Saarland added new weight to intelligence reports from its sister states that previously confirmed the Islamic Republic of Iran sought technology for WMDs and missile carrier systems.

The domestic intelligence agency for the German state of Saarland added new weight to intelligence reports from its sister states that previously confirmed the Islamic Republic of Iran sought technology for weapons of mass destruction and missile carrier systems during time period of 2019. The Jerusalem Post reviewed the 112-page intelligence report, which was released last week, titled “Overview of the situation” that addresses security threats faced by the small West German state Saarland. “Iran, Pakistan and, to a lesser extent Syria, made efforts to procure goods and know-how for the further development of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems,” wrote the intelligence officials for the Saarland. "Delivery system" is typically defined as the capability to launch missiles. (Jerusalem Post)

08-27-2020
Human Rights

The husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist who is on hunger strike at Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, said her health has badly deteriorated after seventeen days of refusing food.

The husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist who is on hunger strike at Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, said Thursday her health has badly deteriorated after seventeen days of refusing food. Ms. Sotoudeh went on a hunger strike on August 11 to protest the "unfair" and "illegal" conditions of political prisoners in Iran and said their situation has even worsened after the coronavirus pandemic. In social media posts on Thursday, Reza Khandan wrote that Ms. Sotoudeh's blood pressure and blood sugar levels are fluctuating greatly, and she has gone down to forty-seven kilos from fifty-three. According to Mr. Khandan nausea does not allow Ms. Sotoudeh to drink enough water or sugar so her blood sugar level sometimes drops to as low as 44. (Radio Farda)

08-26-2020
Terrorism

Unsophisticated Iranian hackers are attacking company networks with ransomware, a cybersecurity firm said.

Unsophisticated Iranian hackers are attacking company networks with ransomware, a cybersecurity firm said. The attackers have been using Dharma ransomware “and a mix of publicly available tools” to target companies in Russia, Japan, China and India, cybersecurity firm Group-IB said earlier this week. Dharma ransomware, which is gaining popularity with cybercriminals, is typically installed by hacking into computers over Remote Desktop Protocol Services (RDP) – a Microsoft-developed technology for connecting to other computers over a network. After scanning the Internet for computers running RDP, hackers will then try to brute force the password – trying multiple passwords hoping that one eventually works. Once access is gained, the attackers will install the ransomware, which encrypts the computer and locks out the users. Often, the attackers also try to encrypt other computers on the network. (Fox News)

08-25-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran won’t accept any additional demands beyond its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, the country’s top nuclear official declared Tuesday as the chief of the U.N. nuclear watchdog made his first visit to Iran.

Iran won’t accept any additional demands beyond its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, the country’s top nuclear official declared Tuesday as the chief of the U.N. nuclear watchdog made his first visit to Iran. Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Iran on Monday to press for access to sites where the Islamic Republic is suspected of having stored or used undeclared nuclear material. Grossi took over the IAEA after the sudden death of its late director-general Yukiya Amano last year. Grossi’s visit comes as the U.S. is pushing to “snapback” U.N. sanctions on Iran for allegedly violating the nuclear deal with world powers. (Associated Press)

08-23-2020
Human Rights

A Revolutionary Court in Iran has ruled against fourteen activists who had protested mismanagement and corruption in the clergy-dominated country last November.

A Revolutionary Court in Iran has ruled against fourteen activists who had protested mismanagement and corruption in the clergy-dominated country last November. Some of the protesters are sentenced to one to five years in jail. Announcing the verdicts, a Telegram channel in Iran reported on Saturday, August 22, that prominent pro-reform political activist, Mehdi Mahmoudian, was sentenced to five years in prison, while his comrades, former members of Iran's parliament, Ali Shakouri Rad and Mohsen Armin, the son of an imprisoned dissident, Mohammad Hossein Karroubi, Qorban Behzadian Nejad, and a former Tehran city councilor Ms. Sediqeh Vasmaqi, were each sentenced to one year behind bars. In a statement in 2019, 77 political activists had called for, "The indiscriminate firing of a rifle procured through public treasury to defend ordinary and unarmed citizens who poured into the streets to express their protest and anger, is a crime--- a crime that the law and the judiciary should not hesitate for a moment in pursuing its initiators, commanders, and perpetrators." (Radio Farda)

08-20-2020
Military

Iran on Thursday unveiled two new types of long-range missiles, named after former IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani and former Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, on the occasion of national Defense Industry Day.

Iran on Thursday unveiled two new types of long-range missiles on the occasion of national Defense Industry Day. The two new missiles, named after former IRGC Quds Force Commander Lt. General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) anti-terror group, were unveiled on Thursday during a virtual ceremony attended by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The first ballistic missile dubbed “Martyr Hajj Qassem Soleimani” has a range close to 1,400 kilometers, while the second one dubbed “Martyr Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis” is a cruise missile with a range of 1,000 kilometers. (Tasnim)

08-18-2020
Syria Conflict

As Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi prepares for his first meeting with US President Donald Trump this week, attacks on American targets by pro-Iranian fighters have been on the rise.

As Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi prepares for his first meeting with US President Donald Trump this week, attacks on American targets by pro-Iranian fighters have been on the rise. With Tehran and Washington competing for influence in Iraq, the gulf between pro-Iranian factions and Baghdad's US-friendly premier is growing. When Kadhemi meets Trump on Thursday for the first time, the top agenda for the Iraqi leader is the presence of 5,000 US troops deployed in his country. (AFP)

08-18-2020
Nuclear Program

A group of senior Iranian lawmakers have voiced support for boosting the Islamic Republic's nuclear production.

A group of senior Iranian lawmakers has voiced support for boosting the Islamic Republic's nuclear production, including the development of nuclear-powered submarine engines should the United States successfully trigger international sanctions that would effectively kill a five-year agreement among world powers. The Islamic Consultative Assembly's Commission of National Security and Foreign Policy released a seven-point statement Tuesday expressing confidence in Iran's ability to win the diplomatic dispute over whether the U.S. had the right to dismantle the 2015 nuclear agreement it abandoned in 2018. At the same time, the legislators laid out other measures to prepare for "the illegal activation of the trigger mechanism" that would revive pre-deal sanctions. The statement called on the Iran Atomic Energy Organization to "immediately return all nuclear activity" to levels attained before the accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This included activating IR4, IR6, IR8 centrifuges to supply enrich uranium at 190,000 separative work units and "to accelerate the construction of nuclear propellants in order to equip our country's navy." (Newsweek)

08-17-2020
Military

Iran's defense minister has said the country plans to export weapons as soon as sanctions preventing such sales are lifted, following the U.S. failure last week to extend a United Nations arms embargo on Tehran.

Iran's defense minister has said the country plans to export weapons as soon as sanctions preventing such sales are lifted, following the U.S. failure last week to extend a United Nations arms embargo on Tehran. Brigadier General Amir Hatami told reporters Sunday that sanctions have been unable to stifle Iran's arms industry, and vowed that the country "will use all capacities in the world to meet its arms requirements, selling and exporting weapons after sanctions removal," according to the Mehr News Agency. Hatami was one of several Iranian officials to celebrate the American failure to convince the U.N. Security Council to extend the arms embargo, which is due to expire in October. (Newsweek)

08-17-2020
Terrorism

US intelligence agencies assessed that Iran offered bounties to Taliban fighters for targeting American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, identifying payments linked to at least six attacks carried out by the militant group just last year alone.

US intelligence agencies assessed that Iran offered bounties to Taliban fighters for targeting American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, identifying payments linked to at least six attacks carried out by the militant group just last year alone, including a suicide bombing at a US air base in December, CNN has learned. "Bounties" were paid by a foreign government, identified to CNN as Iran, to the Haqqani network -- a terrorist group that is led by the second highest ranking leader of the Taliban -- for their attack on Bagram Air Base on December 11, which killed two civilians and injured more than 70 others, including four US personnel, according to a Pentagon briefing document reviewed by CNN. The name of the foreign government that made these payments remains classified but two sources familiar with the intelligence confirmed to CNN that it refers to Iran. (CNN)

08-15-2020
Extremism

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard vowed Saturday there would be dangerous consequences for the United Arab Emirates after it announced a historic deal with Israel to open up diplomatic relations.

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard vowed Saturday there would be dangerous consequences for the United Arab Emirates after it announced a historic deal with Israel to open up diplomatic relations. The UAE is the first Gulf Arab state to do so and only the third Arab nation to establish normalized relations with Israel, Iran’s regional archenemy. As part of the U.S.-brokered deal, Israel agreed to temporarily put off the annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state. The Iranian Guard called the deal a “shameful” agreement and an “evil action” that was underwritten by the U.S., according to the group’s statement on a website it runs, Sepah News. (Associated Press)

08-14-2020
Extremism

Iran has condemned a deal establishing full diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel, calling it a stab in the back to all Muslims.

Iran has condemned a deal establishing full diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel, calling it a stab in the back to all Muslims. Tehran, in the foreign ministry statement on Friday, called the normalising of ties between the two countries a dangerous, "shameful" measure and warned the UAE against Israel interfering in the "political equations" of the Gulf region. "The UAE government and other accompanying governments must accept responsibility for all the consequences of this action," the statement said. The move was an act of "strategic stupidity from Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv that will undoubtedly strengthen the resistance axis in the region", it added. (Al-Jazeera)

08-13-2020
Syria Conflict

The Iranian navy boarded and briefly seized a Liberian-flagged oil tanker near the strategic Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the U.S., the American military said.

The Iranian navy boarded and briefly seized a Liberian-flagged oil tanker near the strategic Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the U.S., the American military said Thursday. The U.S. military’s Central Command published a black-and-white video showing what appeared to be special forces fast-roping down from a helicopter onto the MT Wila, whose last position appeared to be off the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates near the city of Khorfakkan. The Iranian navy held the vessel for some five hours before releasing it Wednesday, said a U.S. military official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss details not yet made public. The Wila made no distress calls before, during and after the seizure, the official said. (Associated Press)

08-13-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran has reportedly been moving to boost uranium enrichment at the Natanz nuclear facility, the site of a mysterious blast last month that allegedly targeted advanced centrifuges.

Iran has reportedly been moving to boost uranium enrichment at the Natanz nuclear facility, the site of a mysterious blast last month that allegedly targeted advanced centrifuges. A document from the International Atomic Energy Agency cited by the Bloomberg news agency said new advanced centrifuges were being moved from a pilot facility to a new area at Natanz. Piping has been installed to accommodate higher volumes of enriched material produced by three new cascades, made up of 164 centrifuges each, the document stated. (Times of Israel)

08-10-2020
Human Rights

Iran shut down a newspaper after it quoted a former member of the national coronavirus taskforce as saying the country’s tolls from the epidemic could be 20 times higher than official figures, state news agency IRNA reported.

Iran shut down a newspaper on Monday after it quoted a former member of the national coronavirus taskforce as saying the country’s tolls from the epidemic could be 20 times higher than official figures, state news agency IRNA reported. “The Jahan-e Sanat newspaper was shut down today for publishing an interview on Sunday,” the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Mohammadreza Saadi, told IRNA. On Sunday, the newspaper published an interview with Mohammadreza Mahboubfar, in which he said: “The figures announced by the officials on coronavirus cases and deaths account for only 5% of the country’s real tolls”. (Reuters)

08-06-2020
Syria Conflict

Bahrain foiled two attempts to smuggle explosives from Iran after seizing two cars loaded with explosive materials, the Ministry of Interior announced on Thursday.

Bahrain foiled two attempts to smuggle explosives from Iran after seizing two cars loaded with explosive materials, the Ministry of Interior announced on Thursday. The ministry said those arrested confessed to Lebanon’s Hezbollah group being behind the operation. Hezbollah has previously attempted to conduct a similar operation in Bahrain in February 2011. Manama's authorities foiled at the time an attempt to smuggle a shipment of ammunition, explosives and weapons off the Bahraini coast and arrested a "terrorist cell" with links to Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) the same year. (Al-Arabiya)

08-05-2020
Human Rights

Iran’s judiciary said Mostafa Salehi, a protester detained during anti-government demonstrations in December 2017, has been put to the gallows.

Iran’s judiciary said Mostafa Salehi, a protester detained during anti-government demonstrations in December 2017, has been put to the gallows. The execution by hanging was carried out in the early hours of Wednesday at Dastgerd Prison, in the central city of Isfahan. One day before the execution, HRANA News Agency — run by a group of Iranian human rights advocates, whose activities are banned by the Islamic Republic — renewed calls for a halt to the order. In a detailed report, the group voiced concern that prison authorities were pressing ahead with the death penalty procedures as the convict was sent to solitary confinement and was barred from contacting his family, two common alarms in the run-up to most executions in Iran. Judges found Salehi guilty of premeditated murder of an officer with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps during the protests. In the proceedings, however, Salehi had denied the murder charges. IRGC-affiliated media outlets reported that Salehi had also acted as “riot leader” in his hometown of Kahriz-Sang, Isfahan province. (Al-Monitor)

08-03-2020
Terrorism

Israeli defense officials claimed that it is likely that Iran, rather than Hezbollah, was behind the local cell that attempted to plant explosive devices along the border between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights.

Israeli defense officials claimed that it is likely that Iran, rather than Hezbollah, was behind the local cell that attempted to plant explosive devices along the border between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights Sunday night. In a statement issued Monday by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, he initially said Hezbollah was responsible for the incident, but a correction that his office sent out moments later omitted any reference to the Lebanese group, and only referred to “terrorists.” Iran has used other similar local groups and Shi’ite militia members, who were sent to Syria to aid the Assad regime in the civil war, for similar purposes in the past. If it were indeed an Iranian-backed unit behind the incident, then it was probably a response to a series of recent airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria attributed to Israel. (Haaretz)

07-31-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country will not negotiate with the United States because America would only use talks for propaganda purposes.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday his country will not negotiate with the United States because America would only use talks for propaganda purposes. The Trump administration has said it is willing to talk with Iran “with no preconditions,” but that the U.S. will continue its campaign of pressure against the Islamic Republic. In a televise speech marking the Eid al-Adha holiday, Khamenei said President Donald Trump would benefit from talks, saying Trump wants to “use negotiations with us for propaganda like negotiations with North Korea.” Khamenei was referring to talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong un. (Associated Press)

07-30-2020
Military

Iran claims to have used its first military satellite—the launch of which was condemned by President Donald Trump's administration—to publish detailed images of a U.S. air base in Qatar, according to state media.

Iran claims to have used its first military satellite—the launch of which was condemned by President Donald Trump's administration—to publish detailed images of a U.S. air base in Qatar, according to state media. The state-backed Press TV channel reported Wednesday that Iran's Nour-1 satellite—operated by the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRCG)—took photos of the Al Udeid air base in Qatar, which hosts the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command and the headquarters of U.S. Air Forces Central Command. Press TV said the images covered the "full expanse" of the base, which it said hosts some 13,000 "terrorist" troops. Tehran has classified all U.S. forces as terrorists in retaliation for the Trump administration designating the IRGC a terrorist organization last year. (Newsweek)

07-29-2020
Military

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched underground ballistic missiles as part of an exercise involving a mock-up American aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz, highlighting its network of subterranean missile sites.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched underground ballistic missiles Wednesday as part of an exercise involving a mock-up American aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz, highlighting its network of subterranean missile sites. Although state television documentaries have focused on operations at underground bases, all have avoided showing geographic details revealing their locations. Wednesday’s launch from what appears to be central Iran’s desert plateau may have changed that amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the U.S. over its tattered nuclear deal with world powers and as economic pressures grow. “We have carried out the launch of ballistic missiles from the depths of the earth for the first time,” Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Guard’s aerospace division, told state TV. “That means without utilizing conventional launchpads, the buried missiles suddenly rip out of the earth and hit their targets precisely.” (Associated Press)

07-29-2020
Human Rights

Iran’s judiciary has blocked the bank account of prominent imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in a move aimed at adding pressure on her and her family.

Iran’s judiciary has blocked the bank account of prominent imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in a move aimed at adding pressure on her and her family. Speaking to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on July 27, Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, said his wife's bank account with Pasargad Bank in Tehran has been blocked since May on the orders of the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office. Sotoudeh, the co-winner of the European Parliament's 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, was sentenced last year to 38 years in prison over her defense of political prisoners, including women protesting the compulsory hijab law. Sotoudeh was also jailed from 2010 to 2013 over her human rights work. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

07-29-2020
Human Rights

A British-Australian academic serving a 10-year sentence for espionage in Iran has been moved to a notorious prison where concerns for her well-being have escalated, the Australian government confirmed.

A British-Australian academic serving a 10-year sentence for espionage in Iran has been moved to a notorious prison where concerns for her well-being have escalated, the Australian government confirmed Wednesday. Kylie Moore-Gilbert was a Melbourne University lecturer on Middle Eastern studies when she was sent to Tehran’s Evin Prison in September 2018. She had been arrested at Tehran airport while trying to leave the country after attending an academic conference. Iran told Australia that Moore-Gilbert had been recently moved to Qarchak Prison east of Tehran, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement. (Associated Press)

07-28-2020
Military

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched missiles targeting a mock aircraft carrier in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched missiles Tuesday targeting a mock aircraft carrier in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a drill that included such a barrage of fire the U.S. military temporarily put two regional bases in the Mideast on alert amid tensions between the two countries. The drill — and the American response to it — underlined the lingering threat of military conflict between Iran and the U.S. after a series of escalating incidents last year led to an American drone strike killing a top Iranian general in Baghdad. Tehran responded to that strike by firing ballistic missiles that wounded dozens of American forces in Iraq. While the coronavirus pandemic has engulfed both Iran and the U.S. for months, there has been a growing confrontation as America argues to extend a yearslong U.N. weapons embargo on Tehran that is due to expire in October. A recent incident over Syria involving an American jet fighter approaching an Iranian passenger plane also has renewed tensions. Iranian commandos fast-roped down from a helicopter onto the replica in the footage aired Tuesday from the exercise called “Great Prophet 14.” Anti-aircraft guns opened fire on a target drone near the port city of Bandar Abbas. (Associated Press)

07-28-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that he turned down around 23 requests for talks after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that he turned down around 23 requests for talks after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. Addressing a meeting of Iranian officials, he said that over the past two years and three months he received 23 requests to meet US officials. "We did not hesitate to negotiate, but we are not looking for a show," he added, reported IRNA. Lifting the sanctions is not a precondition but a reality, the president said, adding that they are putting pressure on the Iranian people, not just the government, describing the sanctions as “economic terrorism.” (Asharq Al-Awsat)

07-27-2020
Terrorism

Tensions between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon escalated as Israeli forces repelled what security officials described as a border infiltration with heavy shelling in a clash that had both sides on high alert.

Tensions between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon escalated Monday as Israeli forces repelled what security officials described as a border infiltration with heavy shelling in a clash that had both sides on high alert.Hezbollah, which is known for claiming responsibility for its actions, denied launching an operation against Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused its patron, Iran, of stoking the unrest by "entrenching its military in our region." In a televised address, Netanyahu said Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah was "embroiling Lebanon" at the behest of Iran. (Washington Post)

07-22-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has repeated threats to further retaliate against the U.S. for its assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has repeated threats to further retaliate against the U.S. for its assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani. The ayatollah met with new Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Tehran on Tuesday and vowed to deliver a "counter blow" to the U.S. for the drone strike that killed Soleimani in Baghdad in January. Khamenei also warned Kadhimi that U.S. presence in Iraq would only bring the country more destruction and corruption. (Newsweek)

07-21-2020
Terrorism

Israel has reportedly thwarted a terrorist plot to kidnap of one of its soldiers, a plan its security services say was masterminded by Iran and Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah.

Israel has reportedly thwarted a terrorist plot to kidnap of one of its soldiers, a plan its security services say was masterminded by Iran and Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah. The cell was intercepted and 10 members were arrested, the Shin Bet domestic security agency said. It said it believed the plot was meant to obtain leverage for the release of jailed Palestinians. The Shin Bet said the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or PFLP, was to carry out the plot in the occupied West Bank. (The National)

07-20-2020
Human Rights

An Iranian convicted of spying for U.S. and Israeli intelligence was executed, according to Iran’s official IRIB news agency.

An Iranian convicted of spying for U.S. and Israeli intelligence was executed on Monday, according to Iran’s official IRIB news agency.  Last month, the judiciary said Mahmoud Mousavi-Majd, who was arrested in 2018, had spied on former Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani, adding, however, that the case was not connected to Soleimani’s killing earlier this year. … A report aired on Iranian state TV on Monday included footage of Mousavi-Majd talking about meeting with contacts from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Israel’s Mossad as well as audio of an alleged conversation between him and a CIA agent in English. (Reuters)

07-17-2020
Human Rights

Police dispersed protesters in southwestern Iran angry over the Islamic Republic’s anemic economy amid a U.S. sanctions campaign, a news report said, and internet access to the wider region was disrupted as demonstrators shared videos of the rally.

Police dispersed protesters in southwestern Iran angry over the Islamic Republic’s anemic economy amid a U.S. sanctions campaign, a news report said on Friday, and internet access to the wider region was disrupted as demonstrators shared videos of the rally. Internet-access advocacy group NetBlocks.org reported the disruption affecting Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province late Thursday. The outage coincided with videos being published online of protesters gathering in the city of Behbahan, some 570 kilometers (355 miles) southwest of the capital, Tehran. Those videos showed demonstrators chanting slogans heard at other protests in Iran over the last year, including: “Don’t be afraid, we are all together.” Others targeted Iran’s foreign policy, shouting: “No Gaza, no Lebanon, I will die for Iran.” (Associated Press)

07-16-2020
Terrorism

A leak from a suspected Iranian hacker crew has revealed just how it’s snooping on American officials’ online lives by taking control of their Google accounts, according to IBM researchers.

A leak from a suspected Iranian hacker crew has revealed just how it’s snooping on American officials’ online lives by taking control of their Google accounts, according to IBM researchers. The same hackers have reportedly been linked with attacks on President Trump's campaign staff, according to an IBM report shared with Forbes. The 40 gigabyte leak was discovered in May by IBM X-Force IRIS, a cyber intelligence unit within the tech giant. A simple misconfiguration of a server had left the data wide open to anyone who could find the relevant web address. The most revealing information came in the form of training videos, one of which showed how the hackers, dubbed ITG18 (though more widely referred to as Charming Kitten), had breached the Google account of a U.S. Navy official.  There was also evidence of failed phishing attempts targeting the personal accounts of an Iranian-American philanthropist and officials of the U.S. State Department, including one associated with the U.S. Virtual Embassy to Iran. And the leak uncloaked a number of fake online personas that the hackers were using to to target persons of interest, with one other victim being a member of Greece’s Hellenic Navy. (Forbes)

07-16-2020
Nuclear Program

The Chief of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned Iran of "bad" consequences if access is not granted by the end of July to two sites where undeclared nuclear activities may have taken place in the past.

The Chief of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday warned Iran of "bad" consequences if access is not granted by the end of July to two sites where undeclared nuclear activities may have taken place in the past. “I keep insisting on the absolute necessity for us to resolve this issue very soon,” Rafael Mariano Grossi was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying. He also pointed out that the issue was not going to just go away and urged Iran again to provide IAEA investigators access to the disputed sites. In a June report IAEA said Iran had not provided access to the two sites for four months. Subsequently, on June 19 the IAEA passed a resolution proposed by the European sides of the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) against Iran. (Radio Farda)

07-15-2020
Extremism

Iran’s head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, Esmail Ghaani, slammed the US and Israel and said both countries would be punished and that only “difficult” days are ahead.

Iran’s head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, Esmail Ghaani, slammed the US and Israel and said both countries would be punished and that only “difficult” days are ahead. He praised a fire aboard a US ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, as divine punishment. “America lit a fire and today is on fire,” he said. Ghaani became head of the Quds Force after the US killed Qasem Soleimani in January. Soleimani was one of Iran’s most well-known commanders, responsible for supporting Iran’s actions from Lebanon to Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Iran has vowed revenge since his killing. (Jerusalem Post)

07-15-2020
Human Rights

Iranians from all walks of life — teachers, doctors, designers, cooks, actors, directors, artists, homemakers, bloggers — have taken to social media with a message for the government: Stop the executions.

Iranians from all walks of life — teachers, doctors, designers, cooks, actors, directors, artists, homemakers, bloggers — have taken to social media with a message for the government: Stop the executions. The online campaign, which took place on Tuesday and which analysts said was remarkable for its scope and the breadth of its support, was in response to the judiciary’s announcement earlier in the day that it had upheld the death sentences of three young men who joined antigovernment protests in November. Iran put 251 people to death last year, more than any country but China, according to Amnesty International. In recent weeks, many Iranians have been rattled by a series of executions based on murky charges, from drinking alcohol to political activism to allegedly spying for the C.I.A. (New York Times)

07-14-2020
Human Rights

Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) reported that Iran has executed two Kurdish prisoners in the central prison of Urumiyeh despite pleas from various rights organizations to drop the death penalty.

Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) reported that Iran has executed two Kurdish prisoners in the central prison of Urumiyeh in the early morning hours of Tuesday despite pleas from various rights organizations to drop the death penalty. The two prisoners, Diako Rasoulzadeh and Saber Sheikh-Abdollah who were sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court in Mahabad for "enmity against God" and being members of Komala, were transferred to solitary cells on Monday in preparation for their execution. Komala is a banned Kurdish political party. Amnesty International had called on Iranian authorities to immediately stop the execution of the two prisoners in a tweet on its Persian-language account only hours before the execution and urged them to allow a fair trial not based on forced confessions as evidence. (Radio Farda)

07-14-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iran has executed a former employee of the defense ministry who was convicted of spying on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency, the country’s judiciary said.

Iran has executed a former employee of the defense ministry who was convicted of spying on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency, the country’s judiciary said Tuesday. It was the second such execution in the past month. The report said Reza Asgari was executed last week. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said Asgari had worked in the airspace department of the ministry and retired in 2016. “In the last years of his service, he joined the CIA, he sold information about our missiles ... to the CIA and took money from them,” Esmaili said. “He was identified, tried and sentenced to death.” (Associated Press)

07-14-2020
Human Rights

Human rights groups say Iran’s decision to uphold and schedule the execution of three protesters is unfair and should be repealed.

Human rights groups say Iran’s decision to uphold and schedule the execution of three protesters is unfair and should be repealed. Iran's judiciary announced on Tuesday that a court had upheld death sentences for three people linked to deadly protests last November. It is the first statement by Tehran on the trial of protesters Amirhossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi and Saeed Tamjidi. The sentences were "confirmed by the Supreme Court after the defendants and their attorneys appealed", spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told the judiciary's Mizan Online website. (The National)

07-10-2020
Syria Conflict

Iran’s military chief has signed an agreement with Syria’s president to reinforce Syria’s air defense systems as part of a military cooperation agreement, Iranian state TV reported.

Iran’s military chief has signed an agreement with Syria’s president to reinforce Syria’s air defense systems as part of a military cooperation agreement, Iranian state TV reported Friday. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, met with Syria President Bashar Assad during his second visit to Syria since 2019. Assad said the agreement signed by both sides is the result of “years of cooperation for confronting terrorism” in Syria. (Associated Press)

07-08-2020
Syria Conflict

A powerful Iran-backed militia said there would be “escalation” if Iraq’s prime minister continues to clamp down on armed groups, as tensions spiked following the killing of a prominent analyst, pitting the state against rogue elements.

A powerful Iran-backed militia said Wednesday there would be “escalation” if Iraq’s prime minister continues to clamp down on armed groups, as tensions spiked following the killing of a prominent analyst, pitting the state against rogue elements. Hostilities have flared as Iraq reels from the assassination of Hisham al-Hashimi, 47, who was gunned down by unknown assailants on motorbikes outside his Baghdad home Monday. He had received death threats from the Islamic State group and Iran-backed militia groups. Al-Hashimi’s killers are still unknown but many point to the timing of the assassination, coming just two weeks after a raid on the headquarters of the Kataib Hezbollah militia south of Baghdad. They speculate al-Hashimi may have fallen victim to escalating tensions between the government and militia groups. Days before his death a study he wrote on the inner workings of Iran-backed militia groups in Iraq was published. (Associated Press)

07-08-2020
Syria Conflict

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that U.S. and partner forces seized a boat in June carrying Iranian weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen as he renewed his call for the U.N. Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that U.S. and partner forces seized a boat in June carrying Iranian weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen as he renewed his call for the U.N. Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Iran. “The Security Council must extend the arms embargo on Iran to prevent further conflict in the region,” Pompeo told a State Department news conference. “No serious person can possibly believe Iran will use any weapon it receives for peaceful ends.” Pompeo is leading a U.S. drive to persuade the Security Council to extend the embargo due to expire in mid-October under the terms of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal from which the United States withdrew in 2018. (Reuters)

07-05-2020
Anti-Americanism

An Iranian conglomerate owned by the country’s military and tied to its missile program has established a retail foothold in Venezuela, according to officials and records detailing the move, deepening Tehran’s involvement with the Maduro government.

An Iranian conglomerate owned by the country’s military and tied to its missile program has established a retail foothold in Venezuela, according to officials and records detailing the move, deepening Tehran’s involvement with the Maduro government. The Iranian firm is working with the Maduro government’s troubled emergency food program, which is the subject of U.S. enforcement action as an alleged money-laundering operation, compounding U.S. concerns regarding the move. The arrival of the company, which also has ties to Iran’s elite military Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, designated by the U.S. as a terror organization, bolsters Tehran’s foothold in the Western Hemisphere and comes as Venezuela increasingly seeks assistance from U.S. foes, including petroleum from Iran and energy-industry assistance from Russia. (Wall Street Journal)

07-01-2020
Syria Conflict

A new UN report has confirmed Iran’s role in the attack on Saudi Aramco facilities last September.

A new UN report has confirmed Iran’s role in the attack on Saudi Aramco facilities last September. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres presented the report to the Security Council in a video conference on Tuesday. The report comes with the Iran arms embargo set to expire on Oct. 18, 2020. Guterres told the council that the report highlights the Iranian regime’s aggressive approach in destabilizing the region through military and financial support of armed militias in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. (Arab News)

06-30-2020
Human Rights

Iran has sentenced to death a journalist whose online work helped inspire nationwide economic protests in 2017.

Iran has sentenced to death a journalist whose online work helped inspire nationwide economic protests in 2017. Ruhollah Zam had returned to Iran under unclear circumstances and was subsequently arrested. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili announced Zam’s sentence on Tuesday. Zam had run a website called AmadNews that posted embarrassing videos and information about Iranian officials. He had been living and working in exile in Paris before being convinced into returning to Iran, where he was arrested in October 2019. Zam later appeared in televised confessions, where he offered an apology for his past activities. (Associated Press)

06-30-2020
Terrorism

Hezbollah in Lebanon is trying to recruit Israeli civilians to carry out terrorist activities, according to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

Hezbollah in Lebanon is trying to recruit Israeli civilians to carry out terrorist activities, according to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). The Hezbollah cell, as well as the identity of Hezbollah detainees and recruits, was discovered following the June 6 arrest of two Israeli civilians from the northern Arab town of Majd el-Kurum and their subsequent interrogation by the Shin Bet. The investigation found that Beirut Hamud, a female Israeli citizen from Majd el-Kurum and currently living in Lebanon with her husband, Bilal Bizari, has been operating on behalf of Hezbollah, a Shi’ite terrorist organization. Hamud and Bizari work for Al-Ahkbar newspaper, which is affiliated with Hezbollah. As part of their work for Hezbollah, she and her husband recruit Israelis, the Shin Bet said. (Jerusalem Post)

06-30-2020
Human Rights

Female human rights activists imprisoned in Iran are facing a slew of new charges to prevent them from being temporarily released because of the Covid-19 epidemic, rights groups say.

Female human rights activists imprisoned in Iran are facing a slew of new charges to prevent them from being temporarily released because of the Covid-19 epidemic, rights groups say. Since Covid-19 spread rapidly through the country in early March, Iranian authorities have been under pressure to release all prisoners who pose no risk to society. Around 85,000 prisoners were temporarily released under a furlough scheme earlier this year in response to the coronavirus outbreak, half of whom were believed to be political detainees. Yet dozens of women’s rights activists remain in prisons across the country, with groups including the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) accusing authorities of deliberately rendering them ineligible for release by bringing new charges. Those considered “security prisoners” with sentences of more than five years were automatically denied furlough. (The Guardian)

06-29-2020
Politics

Heated debates during last week's parliament meeting in Tehran are fueling concerns among millions of Iranians that the newly elected conservative lawmakers are prioritizing restrictions on social media over more urgent economic woes.

Heated debates during last week's parliament meeting in Tehran are fueling concerns among millions of Iranians that the newly elected conservative lawmakers are prioritizing restrictions on social media over more urgent economic woes, which they had promised to address upon taking their seats. The session saw Iran’s young Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi cornered and grilled by powerful hard-line parliamentarians, including the speaker, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. In their ferocious attacks, the lawmakers particularly took aim at the popular social media platform Instagram, which is being used by an estimated half of the population in a country of 84 million. “It has turned into the killing ground of the religious convictions of our young generation,” ultraconservative lawmaker Mousa Ghazanfarabadi said of Instagram, the only Western social media network to so far survive the Islamic Republic’s strict bans. Ghazanfarabadi also blamed the app for the “disintegration of many Iranian families.” For his part, Ghalibaf squeezed the minister for failing to introduce regulatory policies into Iran’s cyberspace, which he said is plagued by “disinhibition” and lax rules. (Al-Monitor)

06-29-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iran has issued an arrest warrant for U.S. President Donald Trump and 35 others over the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani and has asked Interpol for help, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said, according to the Fars news agency.

Iran has issued an arrest warrant for U.S. President Donald Trump and 35 others over the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani and has asked Interpol for help, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said on Monday, according to the Fars news agency. The United States and Interpol both dismissed the idea of acting on such a warrant. The United States killed Soleimani, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, with a drone strike in Iraq on Jan. 3. Washington accused Soleimani of masterminding attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on U.S. forces in the region. Alqasimehr said the warrants had been issued on charges of murder and terrorist action. He said Iran had asked Interpol to issue a “red notice” seeking the arrest of Trump and the other individuals the Islamic Republic accuses of taking part in the killing of Soleimani. (Reuters)

06-29-2020
Human Rights

An Iranian who spied for U.S. and Israeli intelligence on slain Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani has been sentenced to death, Iran said, adding the case was not linked to Soleimani’s killing earlier this year.

An Iranian who spied for U.S. and Israeli intelligence on slain Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani has been sentenced to death, Iran said on Tuesday, adding the case was not linked to Soleimani’s killing earlier this year. On Jan. 3, a U.S. drone strike in Iraq killed Soleimani, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force. Washington blamed Soleimani for masterminding attacks by Iran-aligned militias on U.S. forces in the region. “Mahmoud Mousavi-Majd, one of the spies for the CIA and the Mossad, has been sentenced to death ... He had shared information about the whereabouts of martyr Soleimani with our enemies,” judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said in a televised news conference. (Reuters)

06-27-2020
Human Rights

The Head of the Justice Department of Isfahan Province said eight individuals have been sentenced for "corruption on earth", a charge carrying the death sentence according to Iran's Islamic Penal Code.

The Head of the Justice Department of Isfahan Province on Friday said eight individuals have been sentenced for "corruption on earth", a charge carrying the death sentence according to Iran's Islamic Penal Code. Mohammad-Reza Habibi who was speaking at a Friday prayer sermon did not mention any details about these cases or which protests the defendants had participated in but said: "We will be decisive against mercenaries and rioters if crimes are committed like what happened in 2009, 2017 and last November [when protests broke out across the country]" and added that eight trials have finished and those involved have been sentenced for corruption on earth". Habibi's remarks came only a few days after reports said three young men were sentenced to death for participating in the nationwide protests in November 2019 in Tehran. The death sentences passed by the Revolutionary Court have reportedly been upheld by the Supreme Court. The Judiciary, however, has not yet officially announced the sentences. (Radio Farda)

06-26-2020
Terrorism

A court in Denmark sentenced on Friday a 40-year-old Norwegian man of Iranian descent to seven years in prison after he was found guilty of spying for Iran and being accessory to attempts to commit murder on Danish soil.

A court in Denmark sentenced on Friday a 40-year-old Norwegian man of Iranian descent to seven years in prison after he was found guilty of spying for Iran and being accessory to attempts to commit murder on Danish soil. The man, who was not identified by the court, “collected information about an exiled Iranian in Denmark” during the period of Sept. 25-27, 2018. The Roskilde city court said it was “proven” that the information was handed over to a person working for an unnamed Iranian intelligence service. It added that online chats between the defendant and the person working for the Iranian intelligence service “weighed in” as evidence. (AP)

06-26-2020
Human Rights

The U.S. State Department said that Iran will remain on tier 3 of the U.S. list of human trafficking because it does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and and is not making significant efforts to do so.

In its latest annual report on human trafficking, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday that Iran will remain on tier 3 of the U.S. list of human trafficking because it does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. In his message in conjunction with the annual report, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for tougher legal action against human traffickers by all governments, as well as increased support for victims, including the establishment of therapy and rehabilitation centers for them. …The third tier on the list includes countries such as Iran that do not comply with minimum standards and do not take action to improve the situation. The third group includes countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, China, Russia, Syria, Algeria, Venezuela, and Cuba. (Radio Farda)

06-26-2020
Extremism

Iran’s U.N. ambassador said that he believes a U.S. resolution to extend an arms embargo against his country will be defeated and warned it would be “a very, very big mistake” if the Trump administration then tries to re-impose U.N. sanctions.

Iran’s U.N. ambassador said Thursday that he believes a U.S. resolution to extend an arms embargo against his country will be defeated and warned it would be “a very, very big mistake” if the Trump administration then tries to re-impose U.N. sanctions. Ambassador Majid Ravanchi said restoring U.N. sanctions will end the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers and release Tehran from all its commitments. “If that happens, Iran will not be under constraint as to what course of action it should take,” he said reporters. “All options for Iran will be open.” (AP)

06-25-2020
Terrorism

The Microsoft Threat Protection Intelligence Team has identified a chain of attacks on its cloud service by a group linked to Iran and the Iranian Cyber Army.

The Microsoft Threat Protection Intelligence Team has identified a chain of attacks on its cloud service in a post published on June 18. According to Microsoft the group identified as HOLMIUM” has been performing espionage and destructive attacks targeting aerospace, defense, chemical, mining, and petrochemical-mining industries. Based on previous research by the Fireye the group has been linked to Iran and the Iranian Cyber Army. The attack consisted of sophisticated phishing emails giving the target an impression that the message was legitimate. (Radio Farda)

06-24-2020
Human Rights

Iran Human Rights News Agency (HRANA) reported that the Supreme Court of Iran has upheld the death sentences of three young men who were arrested by security forces during the November 2019 protests.

Iran Human Rights News Agency (HRANA) reported that the Supreme Court of Iran has upheld the death sentences of three young men who were arrested by security forces during the November 2019 protests. The confirmation of the death sentences passed on Amir-Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi, who had all been sentenced to prison, lashes and a death sentence by the Revolutionary Court for various charges brought against them has not been officially announced. However, the lawyer of one of the defendants in the case who did not want to be named for his own safety, has informed HRANA of the Supreme Court's decision. Security forces identified and arrested Amir-Hossein Moradi from CCTV footage during the November 2019 protests. He was beaten during his arrest and interrogations and held in solitary confinement for a month. He was also tortured and coerced to appear on the state-run television to "confess" that he had set fire to banks and gas stations and damaged public property, even before having been tried and sentenced by a court. Moradi and other defendants in the case were denied access to lawyers during the investigation phase. (Radio Farda)

06-24-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iran would be open to talks with the United States if Washington apologizes for exiting a 2015 nuclear deal and compensates Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, cautioning that U.S. calls for discussions were insincere.

Iran would be open to talks with the United States if Washington apologises for exiting a 2015 nuclear deal and compensates Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, cautioning that U.S. calls for discussions were insincere. The confrontation between arch foes Tehran and Washington has worsened since 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. Iran has refused to hold any talks with the United States, which is trying to force Tehran to negotiate a new deal, unless Washington lifts sanctions on Tehran and returns to the original agreement. (Reuters)

06-24-2020
Terrorism

The United States called Iran the “foremost state sponsor of terrorism” in its annual Country Reports on Terrorism.

The United States called Iran the “foremost state sponsor of terrorism” in its annual Country Reports on Terrorism. The report, released by the State Department on Wednesday, notes that Iran has continued to funnel money and resources for terrorist operations across the globe, including to groups such as Hezbollah. The report highlights the U.S. “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign and its impact on Iran’s coordination with foreign terrorist organizations. “In the past, Tehran has spent as much as $700 million per year to support terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas, though its ability to provide financial support in 2019 was constrained by crippling U.S. sanctions,” the report reads. (Washington Examiner)

06-24-2020
Military

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, has established a secret facility near the city of Jajarm that has been producing aluminum powder for use in its missile program.

At the edge of the desert in North Khorasan province in northeast Iran, near the country’s largest deposit of bauxite, sits an aluminium production complex that the government has publicly hailed as a key part of its efforts to boost output of the metal. But the site near the city of Jajarm is also home to a secret facility set up by Iran’s elite security force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, that has been producing aluminium powder for use in its missile programme, according to a former Iranian government official and documents relating to the facility he shared with Reuters. Aluminium powder, derived from bauxite, is a key ingredient in solid-fuel propellants used to launch missiles. Iran started producing the powder for military use more than five years ago, according to the former official, who from 2013 until 2018 was head of public relations and also parliamentary affairs envoy in the office of the vice president for executive affairs, which at the time oversaw some economic policies. The ex-official, Amir Moghadam, said he visited the little-known facility twice and that production was continuing when he left Iran in 2018. (Reuters)

06-23-2020
Military

Iran’s Defense Ministry revealed that the country produces 70 percent of the products needed for aircraft and helicopters locally, enabling it to keep building drones and missiles and replacing aircraft, even under tough sanctions.

Iran’s Defense Ministry revealed on Tuesday that the country produces 70 percent of the products needed for aircraft and helicopters locally. This has enabled it to keep building drones and missiles, and replacing aircraft even under tough sanctions. This means that the US maximum pressure campaign can only go so far in breaking Iran when it comes to its export of precision missiles to Hezbollah or drones to Yemen. The recent report was from Fars News in Iran. Iran’s new report specifically mentions missiles, vessels and aerospace, which relate to the arms industry. This includes clandestine programs, and also the ones Iran boasts about, such as the growing drone army it has built to carry out swarm and cruise missile attacks. (Jerusalem Post)

06-23-2020
Syria Conflict

Saudi Arabia announced that Houthi rebels in Yemen unleashed a ballistic missile and bomb-laden drone attack on various targets in the kingdom, including the cities of Najran and Jizan.

Saudi Arabia announced early on Tuesday that Houthi rebels in Yemen unleashed a ballistic missile and bomb-laden drone attack on various targets in the kingdom, including the cities of Najran and Jizan. According the Saudi statement its air defenses intercepted three ballistic missiles, and eight booby-trapped drones fired from Yemen. It appears that not all drones were intercepted but the statement did not say how many got through and where they might have exploded. Colonel Turki al-Malki, spokesman for the coalition, said in a statement the missiles were targeting civilians. (Radio Farda)

06-23-2020
Military

Iran’s Islamic Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced that they plan to set up a permanent base in the Indian Ocean by the end of next March.

Iran’s Islamic Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced that they plan to set up a permanent base in the Indian Ocean by the end of next March. “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has tasked the IRGC with permanent presence in waters far away from the country,” IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri said. The IRGC commander said that “pirates and some foreign vessels had, in the past, created disturbances for the Iranian trawlers and dhows in the country’s southern waters.” “Through its powerful presence in the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean, the IRGC will no longer leave any room for such acts of infringement,” he added. (The Arab Weekly)

06-19-2020
Human Rights

Iran has withheld confirmation of its apparent recent execution of a Kurdish activist, in the latest example of its long-running practice of secretly executing ethnic minority dissidents.

Iran has withheld confirmation of its apparent recent execution of a Kurdish activist, in the latest example of its long-running practice of secretly executing ethnic minority dissidents. Kurdish activist Hedayat Abdollahpour’s brother Farhad told VOA Persian that their father received a call on June 10 from an official who asserted that Hedayat was executed on or around May 21 in the northwestern town of Oshnavieh. Farhad Abdollahpour, who is based in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan, reported that the caller said his brother Hedayat had been transferred to Oshnavieh for execution from a prison in Urmia, another northwestern Iranian city where the dissident had been on death row since 2017. He told VOA Persian that his brother’s two lawyers had yet to receive any written confirmation of the apparent execution from Iranian judicial authorities as of Friday. (Voice of America)

06-19-2020
Nuclear Program

International nuclear inspectors and the United States accused Iran of hiding suspected nuclear activity, the first time in more than eight years that Tehran has been accused of obstructing inspections.

International nuclear inspectors and the United States accused Iran on Friday of hiding suspected nuclear activity, the first time in more than eight years that Tehran has been accused of obstructing inspections, paving the way for a new confrontation with Western powers. The accusation came in a resolution passed by the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations watchdog, after its new director general, Rafael Grossi, reported that Iranian officials had repeatedly blocked inspectors and “sanitized” a site they wanted to visit beginning last July. It was the first time that the big European powers — Britain, France and Germany — have sided with the Trump administration on a major Iran issue since splitting with President Trump on his decision more than two years ago to abandon the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by the administration of former President Barack Obama. (New York Times)

06-18-2020
Syria Conflict

Iran condemned as inhumane a fresh round of U.S. sanctions against its regional ally Syria and says it will expand its trade ties with Damascus.

Iran condemned as inhumane a fresh round of U.S. sanctions against its regional ally Syria and said it would expand its trade ties with Damascus. The United States on Wednesday imposed its toughest sanctions targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to choke off revenue for his government and force it back to U.N.-led negotiations on ending his country’s war. “As the world is involved with the Corona pandemic, the imposition of such inhumane sanctions will only exacerbate the suffering of the Syrian people,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state media. “We will continue our economic cooperation with the resilient Syrian nation and Syria’s government, and despite these sanctions, we will strengthen our economic relations with Syria,” Mousavi said. (Reuters)

06-18-2020
Military

Iran says its navy has successfully fired a new locally made cruise missile during war games in the northern Indian Ocean and near the entrance to the Gulf.

Iran said its navy had successfully fired a new locally made cruise missile during war games in the northern Indian Ocean and near the entrance to the Gulf. The test-firing comes as the United States is seeking an extension of a U.N.-imposed arms embargo against Iran, which is due to expire in October under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Washington withdrew from that pact. “During the exercises, short-range and long-range coast-to-sea and sea-to-sea missiles were successfully fired from the coast and from decks of ships, hitting their targets with great precision,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. The new generation cruise missiles, with a range of 280 km (175 miles) were tested during exercises by the Iranian navy in the Gulf of Oman, which lies next to the Strait of Hormuz waterway at the mouth of the Gulf, and the northern Indian Ocean, Tasnim said. (Reuters)

06-17-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran has warned the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) against endorsing a draft resolution to push Tehran to allow access for inspectors to two disputed sites over unannounced nuclear activities.

Iran has warned the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) against endorsing a draft resolution to push Tehran to allow access for inspectors to two disputed sites over unannounced nuclear activities. “I note with serious concern that, for over four months, Iran has denied us access to two locations and that, for almost a year, it has not engaged in substantive discussions to clarify our questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities,” said Rafael Mariano Grossi, director-general of the IAEA. “I call on Iran to cooperate immediately and fully with the Agency, including by providing prompt access to the locations specified by us,” said Grossi. Iran's Ambassador to the UN in Vienna Kazem Gharib Abadi stated that "Introduction of this resolution aiming to call on Iran to cooperate with the Agency ... is disappointing and absolutely counterproductive." (Asharq Al-Awsat)

06-16-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran remains hell-bent on developing the deadliest weapons on the planet, according to a damning German intelligence service report released.

Iran remains hell-bent on developing the deadliest weapons on the planet, according to a damning German intelligence service report released. In a section titled “Proliferation,” the 181-page Baden-Württemberg state intelligence agency document reviewed by Fox News states that Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and Syria are "still pursuing" such efforts. “They aim to complete existing arsenals, perfect the range, applicability and effectiveness of their weapons and develop new weapon systems,” the report said. “They try to obtain the necessary products and relevant know-how, among other things, through illegal procurement efforts in Germany.” (Fox News)

06-15-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran faces its first formal reprimand by international nuclear monitors in eight years after inspectors complained they haven’t been given access to places that may have hosted atomic activities two decades ago.

Iran faces its first formal reprimand by international nuclear monitors in eight years after inspectors complained they haven’t been given access to places that may have hosted atomic activities two decades ago. The resolution drafted by France, Germany and the U.K. asks Iran to “fully cooperate” with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s investigation, according to a single-page document seen by Bloomberg. It would be the first diplomatic rebuke passed by the board of the Vienna-based agency since 2012, and could set the stage for a new round of escalation over Iran’s nuclear program. “There are areas where our cooperation is ongoing, there are areas where we are in disagreement,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Monday at a press briefing. “It’s a mixed bag. I hope we can do better.” (Bloomberg)

06-14-2020
Nuclear Program

Israeli defense officials believe Iran hasn’t increased the pace of its nuclear enrichment in recent months, but nevertheless could be just two years from producing an atomic weapon, a report said.

Israeli defense officials believe Iran hasn’t increased the pace of its nuclear enrichment in recent months, but nevertheless could be just two years from producing an atomic weapon, a report said Sunday. The Walla news site quoted the unnamed senior officials as saying Jerusalem estimates the Islamic Republic continues to enrich uranium at a four percent level, the same as when the coronavirus crisis hit earlier this year. However, the report said Defense Minister Benny Gantz has been presented with an assessment that Tehran is just six months away from producing all the components of an atomic bomb, and two years away from assembling such a bomb. (Times of Israel)

06-13-2020
Human Rights

In its annual report on religious freedoms, the United States has once again accused Iran of widespread violations of the rights of religious minorities, including Baha'i and Sunni citizens.

In its annual report on religious freedoms, the United States has once again accused Iran of widespread violations of the rights of religious minorities, including Baha'i and Sunni citizens. The report has focused on the Islamic Republic's Constitution which is based on Sharia and paves the way for the heavy punishment of those who have abandoned their Islamic faith for another. The punishment in some cases could be the death penalty. The report has also highlighted the charge of so-called "waging war against God", which, for example, led to "the execution of two Sunni minority prisoners in Fajr prison, in Ahvaz, the capital city of the oil-rich province of Khuzestan Province, southwest Iran. (Radio Farda)

06-12-2020
Anti-Americanism

The spokesman of Iran’s foreign ministry, Abbas Mousavi tells the United States, “You will soon kneel in front of Iranian Nation”, in a tweet responding to U.S. officials.

The spokesman of Iran’s foreign ministry, Abbas Mousavi tells the United States, “You will soon kneel in front of Iranian Nation”, in a tweet responding to U.S. officials. Abbas Mousavi on Friday tweeted in English attacking statements made recently by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook who had voiced satisfaction about the severe impact of American sanctions on Iran. Mousavi said, “A Govt whose policy is relying on ‘knee on neck’ of either its own people or others around the world should be indeed happy w/#EconomicTerrorism &pressure on the public. But you see that not the Iranians’ neck, but your knee was wrung”. (Radio Farda)

06-12-2020
Syria Conflict

The United Nations says it has determined that Iran was the source for several items in two arms shipments seized by the United States and for debris left by attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations and an international airport.

The United Nations says it has determined that Iran was the source for several items in two arms shipments seized by the United States and for debris left by attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations and an international airport, according to a new report. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said some of the items seized by the U.S. in November 2019 and February 2020 “were identical or similar” to those found after the cruise missiles and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia in 2019. He said in a report to the U.N. Security Council obtained Friday by The Associated Press that some items seized by the U.S. in international waters off Yemen are not only Iranian but may have been transferred “in a manner inconsistent” with the council resolution that endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. (AP)

06-09-2020
Syria Conflict

A new breakaway Afghan Taliban faction that has close ties to neighboring Iran and opposes efforts aimed at ending the 18-year insurgency in Afghanistan has emerged.

A new breakaway Afghan Taliban faction that has close ties to neighboring Iran and opposes efforts aimed at ending the 18-year insurgency in Afghanistan has emerged. The Hezb-e Walayat-e Islami, or Party of Islamic Guardianship, is believed to have split from the mainstream Taliban soon after the United States and the militant group signed a landmark peace agreement in February. The formation of the splinter group underlines the possible divisions within the Taliban, which has seen bitter leadership transitions and growing internal dissent in recent years. (Radio Farda)

06-09-2020
Military

The Islamic Republic appears to have constructed a new mock-up of an aircraft carrier off its southern coast for potential live-fire drills.

As tensions remain high between Iran and the U.S., the Islamic Republic appears to have constructed a new mock-up of an aircraft carrier off its southern coast for potential live-fire drills. The faux foe, seen in satellite photographs obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, resembles the Nimitz-class carriers that the U.S. Navy routinely sails into the Persian Gulf from the Strait of Hormuz, its narrow mouth where 20% of all the world’s oil passes through. While not yet acknowledged by Iranian officials, the replica’s appearance in the port city of Bandar Abbas suggests Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard is preparing an encore of a similar mock-sinking it conducted in 2015. It also comes as Iran announced Tuesday it will execute a man it accused of sharing details on the movements of the Guard’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whom the U.S. killed in a January drone strike in Baghdad. (AP)

06-05-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran continued its elevated rate of nuclear-fuel production last quarter, even as the coronavirus pandemic forced it to shut down swaths of the economy and international inspectors sought answers about previous nuclear activities.

Iran continued its elevated rate of nuclear-fuel production last quarter, even as the coronavirus pandemic forced it to shut down swaths of the economy and international inspectors sought answers about previous nuclear activities. The country’s store of low-enriched uranium increased to 1,571.6 kilograms (3,465 pounds) over the quarter ending May 20, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency report seen by Bloomberg. That’s more than a 50% jump over the amount stockpiled three months ago, and enough of the heavy metal to create two bombs if Iran chose to enrich the material to weapons grade. “The agency notes with serious concern that” Iran continues to deny access to two sites inspectors want to visit, where nuclear material may have been present in the early 2000s, read a restricted report circulated to diplomats in Vienna. “This is adversely affecting the agency’s ability to clarify and resolve the questions.” (Bloomberg)

06-05-2020
Nuclear Program

The United Nations atomic agency expressed “serious concern” about Iran’s failure to cooperate with its probe into undeclared nuclear material in the country, adding to calls from opponents of the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran to kill off that agreement.

The United Nations atomic agency expressed “serious concern” Friday about Iran’s failure to cooperate with its probe into undeclared nuclear material in the country, adding to calls from opponents of the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran to kill off that agreement. In two reports sent to member states by the International Atomic Energy Agency, viewed by The Wall Street Journal, the Vienna-based organization said Iran had failed to give its inspectors access to two sites the agency wanted to visit. The agency also said Iran didn’t answer questions about the use of possible undeclared nuclear material in the early 2000s and what had happened to it since. The agency recorded another big jump in Iran’s nuclear-fuel stockpile, far above the levels permitted under the 2015 pact. Iran has reduced its compliance with the nuclear deal in response to sweeping U.S. sanctions. The Trump administration has called for its European allies—Britain, France and Germany—to exit from the agreement and work with Washington on a new tougher accord with Tehran. (Wall Street Journal)

06-04-2020
Terrorism

Chinese and Iranian government hackers have targeted the Gmail accounts of staffers working on the presidential campaigns of Joe Biden and President Trump, respectively, Google announced.

Chinese and Iranian government hackers have targeted the Gmail accounts of staffers working on the presidential campaigns of Joe Biden and President Trump, respectively, Google announced Thursday. There were no signs the accounts were compromised, a Google threat analyst said in a tweet Thursday, and law enforcement was notified. The disclosure is a fresh reminder that nation states are actively seeking to gain access to presidential campaigns — a practice that has taken place in every presidential election dating back more than a decade. (Washington Post)

06-01-2020
Terrorism

Iran tried to increase chlorine levels in the water flowing to residential areas during April’s cyberattack against Israel’s water systems, a Western intelligence official has told the Financial Times.

Iran tried to increase chlorine levels in the water flowing to residential areas during April’s cyberattack against Israel’s water systems, a Western intelligence official has told the Financial Times. The official told the British newspaper in a report published Monday that hundreds of people would have been at risk of getting sick and that the attack was close to being successful. The head of Israel’s National Cyber Directorate hinted last week that the attack may have aimed to mix chlorine or other chemicals into the water supply. (Times of Israel)

06-01-2020
Extremism

Iran will continue fuel shipments to Venezuela if Caracas requests more supplies, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said, despite Washington’s criticism of the trade between the two nations, which are both under U.S. sanctions.

Iran will continue fuel shipments to Venezuela if Caracas requests more supplies, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday, despite Washington’s criticism of the trade between the two nations, which are both under U.S. sanctions. “Iran practises its free trade rights with Venezuela and we are ready to send more ships if Caracas demands more supplies from Iran,” Abbas Mousavi told a weekly news conference broadcast live on state TV. Defying U.S. threats, Iran has sent a flotilla of five tankers of fuel to the South American oil-producing nation, which is suffering from a gasoline shortage. (Reuters)

06-01-2020
Human Rights

The Syndicate of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company Workers, an independent labor group, reported that one of its members, Rasoul Taleb Moghaddam, was arrested to be punished by 74 lashes.

The Syndicate of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company Workers, an independent labor group, reported on Monday, June 1 that one of its members, Rasoul Taleb Moghaddam, was arrested to be punished by 74 lashes. Taleb Moghaddam, who was among dozens arrested on the International Labor Day, May 1, 2019, in Tehran, surrendered himself at Tehran's notorious Evin prison on Monday. Before surrendering, Taleb Moghaddam was repeatedly threatened to either report to law enforcement or have his bail confiscated. (Radio Farda)

05-28-2020
Politics

Iran’s parliament elected a former mayor of Tehran tied to the Revolutionary Guard as its next speaker Thursday, solidifying hard-line control of the body as tensions between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic remain high over its collapsed nuclear deal.

Iran’s parliament elected a former mayor of Tehran tied to the Revolutionary Guard as its next speaker Thursday, solidifying hard-line control of the body as tensions between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic remain high over its collapsed nuclear deal. Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf’s assumption of power comes after a string of failed presidential bids and 12 years as the leader of Iran’s capital city, in which he built onto Tehran’s subway and supported the construction of modern high-rises. Many, however, remember Qalibaf for his support as a Revolutionary Guard general for a violent crackdown on Iranian university students in 1999. He also reportedly ordered live gunfire be used against Iranian students in 2003 while serving as the country’s police chief. (AP)

05-28-2020
Military

Iran's Revolutionary Guards warned the United States against its naval presence in the Gulf as they received 110 new combat vessels.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Thursday warned the United States against its naval presence in the Gulf as they received 110 new combat vessels. The vessels included Ashura-class speedboats, Zolfaghar coastal patrol boats and Taregh submarines, state television reported. "We announce today that wherever the Americans are, we are right next to them, and they will feel our presence even more in the near future," the Guards' navy chief Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri said during a ceremony in southern Iran. (AFP)

05-26-2020
Human Rights

In a voice recording sent from Qarchak prison Soheila Hejab, a political and civil rights activist, has said that agents of the Revolutionary Guard brutalized and arrested her after attending an appeals court hearing.

In a voice recording sent from Qarchak prison Soheila Hejab, a political and civil rights activist, has said that agents of the Revolutionary Guard brutalized and arrested her after attending an appeals court hearing on Saturday. In her message, the activist says her assailants held her by her hair, dragged her on the ground and kicked her before taking her to the notorious Qarchak prison. According to Ms. Hejab her Revolutionary Guard interrogator has repeatedly threatened to have her killed by dangerous criminals in prison. (Radio Farda)

05-24-2020
Terrorism

Iran has been accused of using a “sophisticated state-sponsored program” of cyber disinformation to identify and arrest supporters of a London-based Persian-language news outlet.

Iran has been accused of using a “sophisticated state-sponsored program” of cyber disinformation to identify and arrest supporters of a London-based Persian-language news outlet. Iran International has been targeted by cybercriminals, thought to be working for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who have made replicas of the channel’s social media accounts and their most popular reporters. Mahmood Enayat, general manager at Iran International, said this is an attempt to identify and arrest the channel’s supporters in the country. (Arab News)

05-22-2020
Extremism

In a televised speech to mark Quds Day, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, reading from a prepared script, compared Israel to a “cancerous tumor in the region” that must be removed.

For the past four decades, on the last Friday of Ramadan, supporters of Iran’s government have marched to denounce Israel. They burn Israel’s flag. They mock effigies of the leaders of Israel and of its patron, the United States. They chant pledges to liberate Jerusalem, or Quds, as the city is known in Arabic. But the coronavirus pandemic forced Iran to cancel its annual Quds Day parade on Friday. Instead, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, delivered a televised speech, compensating in rhetoric for the silence in the streets. Mr. Khamenei, reading from a prepared script, compared Israel to a “cancerous tumor in the region” that must be removed and to the coronavirus as “a reality that all wise people consider it mandatory to fight.” (New York Times)

05-20-2020
Human Rights

A court of appeals in Tehran has upheld the verdict against ten citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran sentenced to more than 100 years in prison for reportedly supporting monarchy.

A court of appeals in Tehran has upheld the verdict against ten citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran sentenced to more than 100 years in prison for reportedly supporting monarchy. Documents exclusively received by Radio Farda shows some details of the legal case and the names of the convicted individuals who have been sentenced to a total of 100 years and four months. Speaking to Radio Farda, a human rights activist Haroun Askari who recently left Iran for Turkey said, the suspects were initially sentenced by the notorious hardliner Judge Abolqassem Salavati in Branch 15 of Tehran's "Revolutionary Court". The verdict was upheld by Branch 36 of the same court. (Radio Farda)

05-20-2020
Extremism

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ali Khamenei published an antisemitic poster evoking Nazi Germany’s “final solution” that destroyed European Jewry, in order to advance Tehran's quest to abolish Israel.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ali Khamenei published an antisemitic poster on Tuesday evoking Nazi Germany’s “final solution” that destroyed European Jewry, in order to advance Tehran's quest to abolish Israel. The poster’s language reads: "Palestine will be free. The final solution. Resistance is referendum." Khamenei displayed the antisemitic poster in English, Farsi and Arabic on his official homepage. (Jerusalem Post)

05-20-2020
Extremism

Iran will support any nation or group that fights Israel, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, ahead of this week’s annual observance of Quds (Jerusalem) Day to express support for Palestinians.

Iran will support any nation or group that fights Israel, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, ahead of this week’s annual observance of Quds (Jerusalem) Day to express support for Palestinians. “We will support and assist any nation or any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime, and we do not hesitate to say this,” Khamenei said in a post on his official English-language Twitter account. Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy in the Middle East, has been a key supporter, along with Russia, of President Bashar al-Assad during Syria’s civil war, sending military advisers as well as material and regional Shi’ite militias. (Reuters)

05-20-2020
Syria Conflict

Iran has spent about $30 billion in Syria since the start of the civil war in the country in 2011, said a prominent Iranian lawmaker in rare remarks about Tehran’s spending in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Iran has spent about $30 billion in Syria since the start of the civil war in the country in 2011, said a prominent Iranian lawmaker in rare remarks about Tehran’s spending in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. “We have probably paid $20-30 billion to Syria, and we have to take that money back,” Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of the Iranian parliament's national security committee, said in an interview with the state-run news website Etemad Online. Falahatpisheh did not elaborate on how Tehran plans to get its money back from Syria. (Al-Arabiya)

05-19-2020
Extremism

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani approved a resolution by the Islamic Republic's Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution to launch a new award named after slain military commander Qassem Soleimani, who was targeted by a US airstrike last January.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani approved a resolution by the Islamic Republic's Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution to launch a new award named after slain military commander Qassem Soleimani, who was targeted by a US airstrike last January. The award is granted in the main category of "struggle and resistance" and six sub-fields of "people and society", "culture and art", "politics", "education and research", "media", and "sports". A 19-member body would oversee the award to be held biennially. The body consists of representatives from militias and factions allied with Tehran including Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine Jihad, and Houthis. It also includes, inter alia, the Islamic Republic's Foreign Minister, and the head of the state-run Radio and Television Organization. (Asharq AlAwsat)

05-19-2020
Syria Conflict

Iran is refuting reports that it's reducing its presence in Syria and said it is seeking to bolster its ties with neighboring Iraq as the Islamic Republic pushes forward with a plan to expel the United States from the Middle East.

Iran is refuting reports that it's reducing its presence in Syria and said it is seeking to bolster its ties with neighboring Iraq as the Islamic Republic pushes forward with a plan to expel the United States from the Middle East. Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency cited who they said was a well-informed official Tuesday who denied outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennet's claim a day earlier that Iran "has begun the withdrawal process from Syria." His remarks followed reports earlier this month by other Israeli officials who argued Iran was gradually pulling out of the country, although Tehran disputed this. "There has been no change in the quantity and quality of Iran's advisory presence in Syria," the unnamed official told Fars News Agency. "We will stay in Syria as long as the Syrian government needs the help of the Iranian advisers." (Newsweek)

05-13-2020
Syria Conflict

Iran is building a new tunnel at the Imam Ali military base in Eastern Syria capable of storing advanced weapons systems, according to satellite images and analysis obtained by Fox News.

Iran is building a new tunnel at the Imam Ali military base in Eastern Syria capable of storing advanced weapons systems, according to satellite images and analysis obtained by Fox News. Images captured on May 12 show bulldozers at the entrance of the structure that is estimated to be around 15 feet wide. Satellite shots from April 1 show an excavator and bulldozers near where the new construction took place. (Fox News)

05-12-2020
Extremism

The Iranian parliament approved a bill including a list of measures against the State of Israel, such as the establishment of an Iranian consulate or embassy in Jerusalem to 'Palestine.'

The Iranian parliament approved a bill on Tuesday including a list of measures against the State of Israel, such as the establishment of an Iranian consulate or embassy in Jerusalem to 'Palestine,' boycott measures and bans on contact and agreements between Iran and Israel. The bill, featuring 14 articles, passed with 43 votes in favor and no votes against, according to the Iranian IRNA news agency. MPs chanted "down with Israel" after the bill was approved, according to the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar news. The bill will be brought before the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee so that the parliament can vote on the law at the beginning of next week. (Jerusalem Post)

05-12-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran’s progress towards a possible nuclear weapon has continued unaffected by the Covid-19 outbreak, satellite imagery has shown.

Iran’s progress towards a possible nuclear weapon has continued unaffected by the Covid-19 outbreak, satellite imagery has shown. The commercially available footage of four Iranian facilities, analysed by Jane’s intelligence, showed Iran’s nuclear activity has not slowed during the pandemic. The activity and launch at the Shahrud Missile Test Complex in particular indicated that Iran’s missile and space programmes remained largely unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Jane’s. (The National)

05-08-2020
Terrorism

Hackers linked to Iran have targeted staff at U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc.

Hackers linked to Iran have targeted staff at U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc in recent weeks, according to publicly-available web archives reviewed by Reuters and three cybersecurity researchers, as the company races to deploy a treatment for the COVID-19 virus. In one case, a fake email login page designed to steal passwords was sent in April to a top Gilead executive involved in legal and corporate affairs, according to an archived version on a website used to scan for malicious web addresses. Reuters was not able to determine whether the attack was successful. Ohad Zaidenberg, lead intelligence researcher at Israeli cybersecurity firm ClearSky, who closely tracks Iranian hacking activity and has investigated the attacks, said the attempt was part of an effort by an Iranian group to compromise email accounts of staff at the company using messages that impersonated journalists. (Reuters)

05-08-2020
Terrorism

Iran is being linked to an attempted cyberattack last month that authorities believe was aimed at disrupting water supplies in at least two locations in Israel as that country was seeking to contain a covid-19 outbreak.

Iran is being linked to an attempted cyberattack last month that authorities believe was aimed at disrupting water supplies in at least two locations in Israel as that country was seeking to contain a covid-19 outbreak, according to foreign intelligence officials familiar with the matter. The incident, which occurred on April 24 and 25, was quickly detected and thwarted before it could cause damage. But Israeli officials and analysts fear that it could signal a further escalation in hostilities between the two countries and that Iran is getting bolder in its efforts to sabotage key systems.  “Cyberattacks that intentionally damage critical infrastructure shouldn’t be condoned,” said a senior Trump administration official, who declined to discuss any specific incident and who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the topic’s sensitivity. “We think they’re very destabilizing.” (Washington Post)

05-08-2020
Human Rights

Afghanistan has recovered 18 bodies of migrants who were allegedly beaten and tortured before being forced into a river by Iranian border guards last week, a senior Afghan official said.

Afghanistan has recovered 18 bodies of migrants who were allegedly beaten and tortured before being forced into a river by Iranian border guards last week, a senior Afghan official said on Friday. Afghan authorities are investigating claims the migrants drowned while illegally crossing into neighbouring Iran from the western Herat province. "Out of 55 Afghan migrants who were forced into the river, we have so far recovered 18 bodies," Abdul Ghani Noori, the governor of Gulran district bordering Iran, told AFP news agency. (Al Jazeera)

05-06-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened a “crushing response” if the United States goes ahead with plans to extend an embargo on Iranian trade of conventional arms, which the United Nations is set to lift later this year.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened a “crushing response” on Wednesday if the United States goes ahead with plans to extend an embargo on Iranian trade of conventional arms, which the United Nations is set to lift later this year. Under Iran’s deal with world powers to accept limits to its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions, a U.N. weapons embargo is due to expire in October. The United States, which exited the deal in 2018, says it wants to extend the embargo. In a speech on Wednesday, Rouhani repeated Iran’s longstanding criticism of Washington’s decision to exit the nuclear deal, which he called a “stupid mistake”. “If America wants to return to the deal, it should lift all the sanctions on Tehran and compensate for the reimposition of sanctions,” said Rouhani, a pragmatist whose rhetoric towards the United States is frequently more measured than that of some officials. “Iran will give a crushing response if the arms embargo on Tehran is extended,” Rouhani added. (Reuters)

05-06-2020
Politics

Iran’s hardliner election watchdog has opposed a last-ditch effort by the outgoing parliament to boost political competitiveness in the country’s closed electoral system.

Iran’s hardliner election watchdog has opposed a last-ditch effort by the outgoing parliament to boost political competitiveness in the country’s closed electoral system. The 92-year old chairman of the Guardian Council, Ahmad Jannati has said that a draft bill in parliament is aimed at watering down his council’s authority in approving candidates for elections. The Guardian Council vets all parliamentary and presidential candidates and as a norm rejects most aspirants. In last February’s parliamentary elections not only thousands of would-be candidates were disqualified but even 100 serving lawmakers were barred from running again. (Radio Farda)

05-05-2020
Syria Conflict

An Iranian airline sanctioned for giving support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah could have fuelled the spread of the coronavirus in the Middle East, an investigation has found.

An Iranian airline sanctioned for giving support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah could have fuelled the spread of the coronavirus in the Middle East, an investigation has found. Mahan Air operated passenger flights to four Chinese destinations on 16 round-trips in February and March despite the Iranian government suspending the company’s flights as Covid-19 gripped Iran, data on flightradar24.com showed. The flight destinations included Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, four of the biggest cities in China. Mahan Air also flew to Lebanon and Iraq after the flight ban and may have introduced the first cases in each country. (The National)

05-04-2020
Extremism

A top Iranian official has repeated his threat to “raze Israeli cities to the ground” if the Jewish state takes any action against the Islamic Republic, hinting that Tehran could attack even in retaliation to US military action.

A top Iranian official has repeated his threat to “raze Israeli cities to the ground” if the Jewish state takes any action against the Islamic Republic, hinting that Tehran could attack even in retaliation to US military action, in the tense aftermath of the killing earlier this year of Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani. “If the Zionist entity takes even the slightest initiative, you may rest assured that we will raze the Israeli cities to the ground,” Mohsen Rezaei, the secretary of Iran’s powerful Expediency Council, told Qatar’s Al-Jazeera network in an April 28 TV interview translated and published Sunday by the Middle East Media Research Institute. Rezaei said that in the immediate aftermath of Soleimani’s killing in a January 3 airstrike in Iraq, “Tel Aviv was not the issue at hand — we had to deal with America.” (Times of Israel)

05-04-2020
Human Rights

Iran has sentenced an exiled husband and wife to a total of 16 years in jail over their popular Instagram accounts where they have a collective 1.5 million followers.

Iran has sentenced an exiled husband and wife to a total of 16 years in jail over their popular Instagram accounts where they have a collective 1.5 million followers. The couple announced late last month that a court in Iran had issued the sentence that also included 74 lashes for "propaganda against the regime", "obscene and vulgar", Radio Farda reported. The couple, Ahmad Moin-Shirazi and Shabnam Shahrokhi, say they left Iran last September after being summoned to the Intelligence Ministry on numerous occasions where they were accused of espionage and other crimes. (The National)

05-01-2020
Terrorism

Iran has slammed Germany's ban on the activities of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement on its soil, saying it would face consequences for its decision to give in to Israeli and US pressure.

Iran has slammed Germany's ban on the activities of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement on its soil, saying it would face consequences for its decision to give in to Israeli and US pressure. Germany branded Hezbollah a "Shiite terrorist organisation" on Thursday, with dozens of police and special forces storming mosques and associations across the country linked to the Lebanese militant group. In a statement issued overnight, Iran's foreign ministry said the ban ignores "realities in West Asia". The Islamic republic said the move was based solely on the goals of the "propaganda machine of the Zionists and America's confused regime". (AFP)

04-30-2020
Human Rights

A top Iranian official said the country has rounded up and arrested 3,600 of its citizens for “spreading rumors about coronavirus.”

A top Iranian official said the country has rounded up and arrested 3,600 of its citizens for “spreading rumors about coronavirus.” Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, the spokesman for Iran’s armed forces, said Tuesday that Iranian police and Basij forces have arrested thousands of people and claimed the country’s “enemies” had “agents” working inside to undermine Iran. The Basij forces are a paramilitary wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that are used for internal security. “Our enemies are always hostile and have agents to further their wishes in our country, but we had a very good performance in combating coronavirus in comparison with countries that claim to be advanced. You can see what disaster the United States is stuck in,” Shekarchi said. (Washington Examiner)

04-28-2020
Human Rights

The editor in chief and a social-media administrator of Iran’s semiofficial ILNA news agency were detained last week over a cartoon deemed insulting to the country's leadership.

The editor in chief and a social-media administrator of Iran’s semiofficial ILNA news agency were detained last week over a cartoon deemed insulting to the country's leadership. The cartoon, which appeared to mock Iran’s highest authority, was reportedly removed from ILNA’s Telegram channel shortly after being posted. ILNA’s editor in chief, Masud Heydari, has been released on bail but the news agency’s Telegram administrator Hamid Haghjoo remains in detention. It is not clear if the two have been charged. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

04-24-2020
Human Rights

The Islamic Republic of Iran imposed a sentence of lashes and prison on Mary (Fatemeh) Mohammadi, one of Iran’s most famous converts to Christianity, because she allegedly “disturbed the public order.”

The Islamic Republic of Iran imposed a sentence of lashes and prison on Mary (Fatemeh) Mohammadi, one of Iran’s most famous converts to Christianity, because she allegedly “disturbed the public order.” The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent  federal government commission, slammed Iran’s regime on Wednesday writing “USCIRF condemns Iran’s sentencing of Christian convert and social activist Mary Mohammadi. No peaceful activist should be targeted on the basis of their religious beliefs.” Iran’s authorities arrested the 21-year-old Mohammadi on January 12 near a protest where Iranians demonstrated in connection with Tehran’s downing of  Ukrainian Airline passenger Flight 752. (Jerusalem Post)

04-24-2020
Anti-Americanism

The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) air arm has claimed his troops were ready to attack hundreds of additional American targets if January's limited exchange of fire escalated into a wider conflict.

The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) air arm has claimed his troops were ready to attack hundreds of additional American targets if January's limited exchange of fire escalated into a wider conflict. IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh made the comments Friday when talking to reporters about the Corps' successful satellite launch earlier this week, which comes as Washington and Tehran exchange fresh military threats in the Persian Gulf. Iran and the U.S. appeared close to war in January after President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani. (Newsweek)

04-23-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iran will destroy U.S. warships if Tehran’s security is threatened in the Gulf, head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Hossein Salami told state TV, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump warned Tehran over “harassment” of U.S. ships.

Iran will destroy U.S. warships if Tehran’s security is threatened in the Gulf, head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Hossein Salami told state TV on Thursday, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump warned Tehran over “harassment” of U.S. ships. “I have ordered our naval forces to destroy any American terrorist force in the Persian Gulf that threatens security of Iran’s military or non-military ships,” Salami told state TV. “Security of the Persian Gulf is part of Iran’s strategic priorities.” (Reuters)

04-22-2020
Human Rights

Iran’s state-run broadcaster has refused to allocate parts of its unused frequency bands, effectively keeping its monopolistic hold on the country’s internet infrastructure and keeping connectivity at barest minimum.

Iran’s state-run broadcaster has refused to allocate parts of its unused frequency bands, effectively keeping its monopolistic hold on the country’s internet infrastructure and keeping connectivity at barest minimum. The Islamic republic’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT) and local internet infrastructure companies need 700 MHz and 800 MHz frequencies to develop the fifth-generation mobile Internet technology and increase the network capacity and speed, broadcast agency Radio Farda said, but gaining access to them means weakening the state TV’s monopoly on the production of videos and the flow of information. Communications authorities believe the frequency bands, if utilized, can lead to a reduction in the costs of connectivity cost and an increase in quality of internet in Iran. (Arab News)

04-22-2020
Human Rights

United Nations rights experts say they are “shocked” Iran has executed another juvenile offender in violation of international law.

United Nations rights experts say they are “shocked” Iran has executed another juvenile offender in violation of international law. Shayan Saeedpour, who was 17 years old at the time of his conviction for a fatal knife stabbing, was hanged on April 21, United Nations special rapporteurs Javaid Rehman and Agnes Callamard said in a statement. They expressed concern that Iran may soon carry out more executions, including of another juvenile offender, in response to recent prison riots. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

04-22-2020
Military

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard launched its first satellite into space, dramatically revealing what experts described as a secret military space program that could advance its ballistic missile development.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard launched its first satellite into space Wednesday, dramatically revealing what experts described as a secret military space program that could advance its ballistic missile development amid wider tensions between the Islamic Republic and the U.S. Using a mobile launcher at a new launch site, the Guard said it put the “Noor,” or “Light,” satellite into a low orbit circling the Earth. While the U.S., Israel and other countries declined to immediately confirm the satellite reached orbit, their criticism suggested they believed the launch happened. Iranian state TV late Wednesday showed footage of what it said was the satellite and said it had orbited the earth within 90 minutes. It said the satellite’s signals were being received. (Associated Press)

04-21-2020
Human Rights

Iran's media freedom rank is 173 out of the 180 countries in the latest press freedom index of Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Iran's media freedom rank is 173 out of the 180 countries in the latest press freedom index of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released on Tuesday. The Islamic Republic's rank has dropped three points from 170 in 2019. The RSF report says Iran has been one of the world's most repressive countries for journalists for the past 40 years with unrelenting state control of news and information and at least 860 journalists and citizen-journalists imprisoned or executed since 1979. The report mentions extensive control over the media landscape and harassment of independent journalists, citizen-journalists and independent media coupled with intimidation, arbitrary arrest and long sentences imposed by revolutionary courts at the end of unfair trials as some of the factors that have made Iran an extremely difficult environment for journalists to work. (Radio Farda)

04-20-2020
Military

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard announced that it has significantly upgraded the range of its anti-warship missiles, the state-run news agency reported.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard announced on Monday that it has significantly upgraded the range of its anti-warship missiles, the state-run news agency reported. The Guard says it now possesses surface-to-surface and subsurface anti-warship missiles with a range as high as 700 kilometers (430 miles), according to its top naval officer, Adm. Ali Reza Tangsiri. In September, Iranian officials said the country’s most advanced anti-warship missiles had a range of about 300 kilometers, some 180 miles. (Associated Press)

04-19-2020
Nuclear Program

The head of Iran’s navy announced that the Islamic Republic will build nuclear submarines.

The head of Iran’s navy announced on Thursday that the Islamic Republic will build nuclear submarines. “It’s a kind of neglecting if the Islamic Republic does not think about using nuclear propulsion in submarines… this domestic capability exists in the Defense Ministry regarding the production of submarines bigger than Fateh – and certainly, the developing of submarine propulsion is on the agenda of the Navy,” Rear Adm. Khanzadi said, according to a report by the state-controlled Mehr news agency. Khanzadi said that “None of the international pacts ban using peaceful nuclear energy, but the peace we are talking about doesn’t find meaning without maintaining defense readiness.” (Jerusalem Post)

04-19-2020
Military

Iran’s Defense Ministry unveiled a mass of new drones for the Islamic Republic’s army and air force, some of which can fly more than 1,000 km. according to Tehran, which means they could reach Israel from Iran.

Iran’s Defense Ministry unveiled a mass of new drones over the weekend for the Islamic Republic’s army and air force. According to Tehran the drones have new capabilities, and can fly more than 1,000 km., which means they could reach Israel from Iran. Iran has been producing drones since the 1980s and is an innovator in drone warfare. It used 25 drones and cruise missiles to attack Saudi Arabia last September, and has flown drones into Israeli airspace. Iran’s Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Amir Hatami showed off the drones on Saturday. He said that one jet-powered UAV could fly at speeds of 900 km. per hour at an altitude of 12,000 meters. This would rival the best drones that the US and other countries are now using. These drones have a range of up to 1,500 km., he said, and can fly for several hours. It is a message to Israel, the US and their allies: We can reach you. (Jerusalem Post)

04-17-2020
Human Rights

The Free Trade Union of Workers in Iran has reported that a member of its board of directors, Ms. Nahid Khodajo, was summoned to Tehran's Evin Prison, to serve her sentence amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Free Trade Union of Workers in Iran has reported that a member of its board of directors, Ms. Nahid Khodajo, was summoned to Tehran's Evin Prison, to serve her sentence amid the coronavirus crisis. Deploring the decision, the April 16 statement says the Evin Court of Appeals has given Ms. Khodajoo five days to surrender herself to the prison and serve six years behind bars. "The judge has disregarded the fact that the deadly outbreak of the novel coronavirus has created an extremely life-threatening situation at prisons across the country", the statement noted. A retired worker and a member of the board of directors of the Free Trade Union of Iran, Khodajoo, was arrested in front of Majlis (Iranian parliament) on International Workers' Day last year and released on bail after 33 days in detention. She was later sentenced to six years in prison, and 74 lashes by an Islamic Revolutionary Court. (Radio Farda)

04-16-2020
Military

Eleven Iranian gunboats harassed U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships operating in the north Persian Gulf, the Navy said, calling Iran’s actions “dangerous and provocative.”

Eleven Iranian gunboats harassed U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships operating in the north Persian Gulf on Wednesday, the Navy said, calling Iran’s actions “dangerous and provocative.” At one point, the Iranian vessels, from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps navy, came within 10 yards of the Coast Guard Cutter Maui, the Navy said. The U.S. ships issued several warnings through bridge-to-bridge radio and horn blasts, the Navy said. After an hour, the Iranian vessels “maneuvered away from the U.S. ships and opened distance between them,” the Navy said in a statement. (Wall Street Journal)

04-14-2020
Military

Iranian naval forces seized a Hong Kong-flagged tanker and redirected the vessel into Iranian waters before releasing it, according to Western and Emirati officials, prompting a warning to ships along the Persian Gulf’s key oil export route.

Iranian naval forces seized a Hong Kong-flagged tanker and redirected the vessel into Iranian waters before releasing it, according to Western and Emirati officials, prompting a warning Tuesday to ships along the Persian Gulf’s key oil export route. The alert comes amid mounting Iranian assertiveness along the key oil export route, say Western security officials, and as broader regional tensions simmer between Tehran and Saudi Arabia as well as Western powers. Tankers crossing the Strait of Hormuz—near the area where the vessel was held—have been frequently stopped or approached by the Iranian navy in recent months. Over a third of the world’s seaborne oil transits through the Strait. (Wall Street Journal)

04-11-2020
Nuclear Program

The Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee declared that Tehran will move forward with its uranium enrichment process, triggering sharp criticism from the US State Department.

The Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee declared that Tehran will move forward with its uranium enrichment process, triggering sharp criticism from the US State Department on Thursday. According to a report in the Iranian regime’s state-controlled MEHR news agency, the foreign policy committee for Iran’s parliament warned “that in case Europe does not provide Iran with a practical guarantee on implementation of JCPOA, the Islamic Republic will continue its uranium enrichment to its desired level and volume.” The JCPOA is an abbreviation for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal. The US withdrew from it in 2018 because the agreement, according to the Trump administration, failed to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon. The other world powers – UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – have stuck with the JCPOA. (Jerusalem Post)

04-09-2020
Human Rights

Around 36 prisoners in Iran are feared to have been killed by security forces after the use of lethal force to control protests over COVID-19 safety fears, Amnesty International has learned.

Around 36 prisoners in Iran are feared to have been killed by security forces after the use of lethal force to control protests over COVID-19 safety fears, Amnesty International has learned. In recent days, thousands of prisoners in at least eight prisons around the country have staged protests over fears of contracting the coronavirus, sparking deadly responses from prison officers and security forces. In several prisons, live ammunition and tear gas were used to suppress protests, killing around 35 prisoners and injuring hundreds of others, according to credible sources. In at least one prison, security forces beat those taking part in the protest action, possibly leading to the death of an inmate. (Amnesty International)

04-09-2020
Nuclear Program

A team of American experts says it has uncovered a previously unknown Islamic Republic nuclear weapons development site in Iran.

A team of American experts says it has uncovered a previously unknown Islamic Republic nuclear weapons development site in Iran. The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) called on Tehran on April 8 to acknowledge the previously undisclosed site to international inspectors. … ISIS says that it has evidence the Islamic Republic operated the nuclear weapons development facility in northern Iran until at least 2011 when it was likely destroyed as Western nations began to investigate the country's weapons program. "Based on documents in the Iran Nuclear Archive, seized by Israel in early 2018, Iran’s Amad Plan created the Shahid Mahallati Uranium Metals Workshop near Tehran to research and develop uranium metallurgy related to building nuclear weapons", ISIS says. (Radio Farda)

04-08-2020
Nuclear Program

The head of Iran’s atomic agency on Tuesday said work to modernize the Arak heavy water plant was progressing, as were efforts to construct two new reactors at the Bushehr nuclear plant.

The head of Iran’s atomic agency on Tuesday said work to modernize the Arak heavy water plant was progressing, as were efforts to construct two new reactors at the Bushehr nuclear plant. “Modernization and completion of Khondab (Arak) heavy water reactor is underway based on the contents of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted saying by the Fars news agency, referring to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Salehi, who made the comments in a message marking the country’s national nuclear day, said Iran was pushing ahead with work in a number of fields related to its nuclear program, including uranium enrichment. He also said the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran made 122 new nuclear-related achievements over the last year, but did not give details on what these were. (Times of Israel)

04-08-2020
Nuclear Program

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO), Ali Akbar Salehi, said that the Islamic Republic's nuclear activities were continuing and that a new generation of centrifuges would soon come online at the Natanz fuel enrichment plant.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO), Ali Akbar Salehi, said on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic's nuclear activities were continuing despite the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country. "A new generation of centrifuges would soon come online at the Natanz fuel enrichment plant", Salehi said. Speaking to the monopolized state-run national television, Salehi once again maintained that Tehran's nuclear activities were solely for peaceful purposes. Earlier on April 5, speaking to Fars news agency Salehi had disclosed, "Nuclear activities, as well as research and development on the nuclear fuel cycle, uranium conversion, and enrichment (including production and storage), are being carried out without any restrictions." (Radio Farda)

04-07-2020
Military

Evidence suggests that Iran has deployed an array of anti-ship missiles and large rockets overlooking the Strait of Hormuz, which is vital for the supply of oil from the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.

Evidence suggests that Iran has deployed an array of anti-ship missiles and large rockets overlooking Strait of Hormuz, which is vital for the supply of oil from the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. The waterway is being patrolled by U.S. Navy and its allies to protect vessels from Iranian action. Multiple amateur videos and photos of the weapons lined up overlooking the beach began surfacing on social media on April 4. Geospatial analysis has confirmed that the location of one of the batteries is on Qeshm Island. The images show the weapons were deployed beside the coast road, facing east towards the Strait, between Qeshm and Borka Khalaf, and were lined up behind a protective sand berm. The space between them suggests a tactical deployment. It’s unclear whether it is an exercise or a show of force, and whether or not it was supposed to be seen. (Forbes)

04-02-2020
Terrorism

Hackers working in the interests of the Iranian government have attempted to break into the personal email accounts of staff at the World Health Organization during the coronavirus outbreak, four people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Hackers working in the interests of the Iranian government have attempted to break into the personal email accounts of staff at the World Health Organization during the coronavirus outbreak, four people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. It is not clear if any accounts were compromised, but the attacks show how the WHO and other organizations at the center of a global effort to contain the coronavirus have come under a sustained digital bombardment by hackers seeking information about the outbreak. Reuters reported in March that hacking attempts against the United Nations health agency and its partners had more than doubled since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, which has now killed more than 40,000 worldwide. The latest effort has been ongoing since March 2 and attempted to steal passwords from WHO staff by sending malicious messages designed to mimic Google web services to their personal email accounts, a common hacking technique known as “phishing,” according to four people briefed on the attacks. Reuters confirmed their findings by reviewing a string of malicious websites and other forensic data. (Reuters)

04-01-2020
Terrorism

The United States believes Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security was directly involved in the killing of an Iranian dissident last November in Turkey, a senior administration official told Reuters.

The United States believes Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security was directly involved in the killing of an Iranian dissident last November in Turkey, a senior administration official told Reuters on Wednesday. Masoud Molavi Vardanjani was shot dead on an Istanbul street on Nov. 14, 2019. Citing Turkish officials, Reuters last week reported that two intelligence officers in Iran’s consulate in Istanbul had instigated his killing. “Given Iran’s history of targeted assassinations of Iranian dissidents and the methods used in Turkey, the United States government believes that Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) was directly involved in Vardanjani’s killing,” a senior administration official told Reuters. (Reuters)

04-01-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iran warned the United States it is leading the Middle East to disaster amid the coronavirus pandemic after reports that Patriot air defence missiles were deployed to Iraq.

Iran warned the United States it is leading the Middle East to disaster amid the coronavirus pandemic after reports that Patriot air defence missiles were deployed to Iraq. Washington had been in talks with Baghdad about the proposed deployment since January, but it was not immediately clear whether it secured its approval or not. Iran, which wields huge influence in its western neighbour, said it had not. The US deployment runs "counter to the official position of the Iraqi government, parliament and people", a foreign ministry statement said on Wednesday. It called for a halt to "warmongering during the coronavirus outbreak" and warned US military activities in the region could lead it to "instability and disaster". (Al Jazeera)

04-01-2020
Anti-Americanism

U.S. intelligence out of the Middle East suggests that Iran or Iran-backed forces are planning a potentially serious attack against U.S. military personnel in Iraq, said officials monitoring the information.

U.S. intelligence out of the Middle East suggests that Iran or Iran-backed forces are planning a potentially serious attack against U.S. military personnel in Iraq, said officials monitoring the information. “We’ve been seeing something brewing and developing pretty seriously,” a U.S. official said Wednesday. The intelligence has mounted over a two-week period, officials said. “We expect something soon,” the official said. Shiite militias such as Kataib Hezbollah have been targeting U.S. troops in Iraq in recent weeks with a series of rocket attacks. Two Americans and a British soldier were killed in a missile attack in March at Camp Taji, an Iraqi base where coalition troops are stationed. (Wall Street Journal)

03-27-2020
Military

Iran's Defence Minister Brigadier-General Amir Hatami said Iran has upgraded all its cruise missiles and is planning to increase the explosive power of their warheads, speed and maneuverability.

Iran's Defence Minister Brigadier-General Amir Hatami on March 26 said Iran has upgraded all its cruise missiles and is planning to increase the explosive power of their warheads, speed and maneuverability. According to a report by Iran's DEFA Press which covers military news, Brigadier-General Hatami said in the current Iranian year (which started on March 21) cruise missiles will become more responsive and capable of being deployed while on the move. Iranian-made air-launched cruise missiles are being worked on and may be unveiled during the current year, he was quoted as saying. He referred to Bavar-373, an Iranian long-range road-mobile surface-to-air missile system, and Khordad 15, a surface-to-air missile system as "turning points" in Iran's missile capabilities. The Khordad 15 system was unveiled to the public on 9 June 2019 by Hatami in Tehran, Iran. The system was developed by the Iran Aviation Industries Organization. (Radio Farda)

03-26-2020
Human Rights

A Navy veteran released from an Iranian prison last week on a medical furlough says he's sick with coronavirus symptoms and is requesting a humanitarian evacuation to the United States for medical treatment.

A Navy veteran released from an Iranian prison last week on a medical furlough says he's sick with coronavirus symptoms and is requesting a humanitarian evacuation to the United States for medical treatment. Michael White was hospitalized Wednesday in a crowded ward for coronavirus patients in Iran and has experienced fever, fatigue, a cough and shortness of breath since his furlough last week, according to a statement from Jon Franks, a family spokesman. White, of Imperial Beach, California, "is an immunocompromised cancer patient and his situation is urgent," Franks said. White has been tested for the coronavirus but the results haven't come back. (CBS News)

03-25-2020
Human Rights

As coronavirus spreads in Iran, authorities have moved swiftly and aggressively to contain independent reporting about it by harassing, detaining and censoring journalists and social media users.

As coronavirus spreads in Iran, authorities have moved swiftly and aggressively to contain independent reporting about it by harassing, detaining and censoring journalists and social media users. Tehran has questioned or detained journalists who contradicted or questioned official reports, warned that those publishing statistics other than government figures would be arrested, and issued censorship orders to news outlets. In at least one case, a journalist was forced to retract comments made on social media. Iran’s leaders downplayed the outbreak in February, when the first cases were reported. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a March 3 broadcast called on citizens to “not overestimate” the virus, and regime officials including Hossein Salami, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have said on state media the virus “might be the product of an American biological [attack].” (Voice of America)

03-25-2020
Human Rights

Trump administration officials have concluded that Robert A. Levinson, the retired F.B.I. agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007 on an unauthorized mission for the C.I.A., died while in Iranian custody, his family announced.

Trump administration officials have concluded that Robert A. Levinson, the retired F.B.I. agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007 on an unauthorized mission for the C.I.A., died while in Iranian custody, his family announced on Wednesday. Newly revealed intelligence pointed to Mr. Levinson’s death, top national security officials told his relatives inside the White House Situation Room in recent weeks, according to a person familiar with the meeting. The officials provided strong evidence that Mr. Levinson had died sometime in the past several years, the person said, but did not detail the proof. “We recently received information from U.S. officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody,” Mr. Levinson’s family wrote in a statement on Facebook. “We don’t know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.” (New York Times)

03-24-2020
Human Rights

Iran’s theocratic rulers have temporarily released some 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, in an effort to prevent the spread of the Middle East’s worst coronavirus outbreak, but have refused to free many Iranian Christians.

Iran’s theocratic rulers have temporarily released some 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, in an effort to prevent the spread of the Middle East’s worst coronavirus outbreak, but have refused to free many Iranian Christians jailed for practicing their faith. Article18, an organization that promotes religious freedom in Iran, told Fox News on Monday that four Iranian Christians serving 10-year sentences in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison are among the prisons denied temporary release “even though their requests for retrials have been accepted.” “We at Article18 ask for the immediate and unconditional release of all Christians detained on spurious charges related to their faith or religious activities,” Mansour Borji, the research and advocacy director for the London-based organization, said. “This is even more urgent given the current health crisis that threatens these detained Christians and their families back home.” (Fox News)

03-23-2020
Human Rights

Iranian regime officials stole more than $1 billion in humanitarian funds meant to be used to help the country's people fight the spread of coronavirus, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Iranian regime officials stole more than $1 billion in humanitarian funds meant to be used to help the country's people fight the spread of coronavirus, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. European countries intended for more than $1 billion cash for medical supplies to go to the Iranian people, who have been ravaged by the virus. But American officials say regime leaders instead pocketed the money and are now using it to protect themselves from the virus as it spreads throughout the population. This includes hoarding medical supplies that were meant to aid Iranian citizens. Multiple regional reports have showed that before and since the virus began spreading, Iranian leaders stole funds purposed directly to support the ailing Iranian people. (Washington Free Beacon)

03-22-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iran’s supreme leader refused U.S. assistance to fight the new coronavirus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory claiming the virus could be man-made by America.

Iran’s supreme leader refused U.S. assistance Sunday to fight the new coronavirus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory claiming the virus could be man-made by America. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments come as Iran faces crushing U.S. sanctions blocking the country from selling its crude oil and accessing international financial markets. But while Iranian civilian officials in recent days have increasingly criticized those sanctions, 80-year-old Khamenei instead chose to traffic in the same conspiracy theory increasingly used by Chinese officials about the new virus to deflect blame for the pandemic. (Associated Press)

03-17-2020
Syria Conflict

Two rockets have struck a training base south of Baghdad where US-led coalition troops and NATO trainers are present, Iraq's military has said.

Two rockets have struck a training base south of Baghdad where US-led coalition troops and NATO trainers are present, Iraq's military has said. The attack, the third targeting military bases hosting foreign forces in a week, targeted the Besmaya base south of Baghdad on Monday night, read the statement, making no mention of casualties. Earlier on Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iraq that the US would retaliate "as necessary" against any new assaults on Americans. (Al Jazeera)

03-14-2020
Syria Conflict

Rockets hit a base housing U.S. troops in Iraq, wounding at least three American military personnel and two Iraqi troops in an attack that is likely to intensify tensions between the United States and Iran.

Rockets hit a base housing U.S. troops in Iraq on Saturday, wounding at least three American military personnel and two Iraqi troops in an attack that is likely to intensify tensions between the United States and Iran. Col. Myles Caggins, a U.S. military spokesman, said at least 25 107 mm rockets hit Camp Taji, a base north of Baghdad, on Saturday morning. Two of the Americans were seriously injured, the military said, adding that Iraqi security forces had made an arrest. The Iraqi military said in a statement that the “blatant attack” had struck Iraqi air defense units and warned the perpetrators and those who may have enabled them. It said seven rocket launchers had been found in a garage near the base, along with two dozen rockets that had not been fired. (Washington Post)

03-12-2020
Syria Conflict

The Pentagon’s top leaders confirmed that Iranian-backed militia groups were behind the rocket attack in Iraq that killed two U.S. troops and one British soldier a day earlier, saying that “all options are on the table” for a response.

The Pentagon’s top leaders on Thursday confirmed that Iranian-backed militia groups were behind the rocket attack in Iraq that killed two U.S. troops and one British soldier a day earlier, saying that “all options are on the table” for a response. “Yesterday’s attack by Iranian-backed Shia militia groups consisted of multiple indirect fires that originated from a stationary platform and was clearly targeting coalition and partnered forces on Camp Taji,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters at the Pentagon. “Let me be clear, the United States will not tolerate attacks against our people, our interests or our allies,” Esper added. (The Hill)

03-12-2020
Human Rights

A top U.S. general said that Iran is significantly underreporting the number of its coronavirus victims and he believed that the global pandemic is making Tehran more dangerous.

A top U.S. general said on Thursday that Iran is significantly underreporting the number of its coronavirus victims and he believed that the global pandemic is making Tehran more dangerous, a day after an attack in Iraq that killed U.S. and British troops. “I think it is having an effect on how they make decisions, I think it slows them down...I believe the numbers are probably significantly underreported,” U.S. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of Central Command, said. McKenzie said while he did not know for sure what impact the virus was having that “authoritarian regimes” usually react to extreme pressure by looking at external threats. (Reuters)

03-11-2020
Human Rights

The newly released U.N. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran savaged Tehran’s failure to adhere to basic human rights norms.

The newly released U.N. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran savaged Tehran’s failure to adhere to basic human rights norms. Javaid Rehman, the U.N. Rapporteur who released his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland,  on Monday, said: "Individuals who have called for the alleviation of economic hardships, and those who peacefully exercise their civil and political rights in defense of human rights have faced a harsh response. In particular, I remain deeply concerned at the arrest and imprisonment of human rights defenders and lawyers. I received reports that imprisoned human rights defender, Arash Sadeghi, has been denied treatment for bone cancer and a serious arm infection.” He added: “Prominent human rights lawyers, Nasrin Sotoudeh and Amirsalar Davoudi, remain imprisoned for their convictions connected to their representation of marginalized communities. Mr. Davoudi started a hunger strike last month. Labor rights activists and journalists reporting on industrial relations have been imprisoned for peaceful expression and assembly.” (Fox News)

03-11-2020
Nuclear Program

One of the three sites in Iran about which the U.N. nuclear watchdog says it has raised questions that Tehran has failed to answer may have hosted uranium metal, the United States said, providing new details on the locations.

One of the three sites in Iran about which the U.N. nuclear watchdog says it has raised questions that Tehran has failed to answer may have hosted uranium metal, the United States said on Wednesday, providing new details on the locations. The International Atomic Energy Agency policing Iran’s troubled nuclear deal with major powers rebuked Tehran last week for failing to reply to its questions about nuclear activities dating back to the early 2000s at three sites and for denying its inspectors access to two of them. Uranium metal has long been an issue of interest to the IAEA in investigating Iran’s past work. In 2005 Iran handed the IAEA a 15-page document given to it by a nuclear black market network showing how to make two uranium metal half-spheres like those that often make up the core of an atomic bomb. (Reuters)

03-05-2020
Human Rights

An Iranian director who won last month the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival has been summoned to serve a 1-year prison sentence over his movies, his lawyer says.

An Iranian director who won last month the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival has been summoned to serve a 1-year prison sentence over his movies, his lawyer says. Mohammad Rasoulof won the festival's Golden Bear for his film There Is No Evil, but was unable to accept the prize in person on February 29 due to a travel ban imposed on him by Iran’s authorities. His lawyer said the 48-year-old filmmaker received an order via text message from the judiciary on March 4 to appear and start serving a 12-month prison sentence handed down last year. The sentence came from films he made that authorities found to be “propaganda against the system,” said the lawyer, Nasser Zarafshan. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

03-05-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran stood by its decision to deny U.N. nuclear inspectors access to sites where they have questions about past activities, arguing that the agency’s case is based on “fabricated” Israeli intelligence.

Iran on Thursday stood by its decision to deny U.N. nuclear inspectors access to sites where they have questions about past activities, arguing that the agency’s case is based on “fabricated” Israeli intelligence. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is policing Iran’s troubled nuclear deal with major powers, sounded an alarm on Tuesday over a lack of Iranian cooperation in clearing up what the IAEA suspects are undeclared activities and materials dating back to the early 2000s. Iran has denied it access to two sites. Diplomats who follow the IAEA say the decision to inspect those sites to take environmental samples was based at least in part on a trove of documents Israel says its intelligence agents seized in Iran. Israel calls it an “archive” of past activities. “The Islamic Republic of Iran does not want to set a bad precedence by giving legitimacy to such alleged information,” Iran’s mission to the IAEA in Vienna said in a statement. (Reuters)

03-04-2020
Extremism

Iran is continuing efforts to encourage anti-Americanism in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, to secure its own influence and interests.

Iran is continuing efforts to encourage anti-Americanism in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, to secure its own influence and interests. Dozens of Iran-aligned Muslim scholars from several countries, mainly in the Middle East, gathered Feb. 21 in Baghdad to participate in a forum of the fourth International Conference of Resistance Axis Scholars, an organization that brings together Muslim academics, both Shiite and Sunni, who believe in the goals of the Axis of Resistance led by Iran. Unsurprisingly, anti-American sentiment dominated the forum. One slogan displayed behind the speakers read, “The exit of American forces is inevitable." The meeting focused on several issues: Iraq's sovereignty and the presence of US forces, the state of the Muslim community in general and the Palestinian struggle. (Al-Monitor)

03-04-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani dismissed a US offer to help the Islamic republic fight its coronavirus outbreak, charging that "vicious" American sanctions are depriving the country of medicine.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday dismissed a US offer to help the Islamic republic fight its coronavirus outbreak, charging that "vicious" American sanctions are depriving the country of medicine. Iran has scrambled to halt the rapid spread of the virus that has claimed 92 lives out of 2,922 confirmed infections in the past two weeks. It has shut schools and universities, suspended major cultural and sporting events, and cut back on work hours. "Those who have deprived the people of even medicine and food through sanctions, who have done the most vicious things... they appear with a mask of sympathy and say that we want to help the nation of Iran," Rouhani said, in a clear reference to the United States. (AFP)

03-03-2020
Human Rights

Human rights group Amnesty International accused the Iranian security forces of killing 23 children, mostly with live ammunition, during a November crackdown on anti-government protests.

Human rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday accused the Iranian security forces of killing 23 children, mostly with live ammunition, during a November crackdown on anti-government protests. Protests broke out across Iran from November 15, after the announcement of a surprise petrol price rise. The authorities responded with a crackdown that Amnesty has already said left 304 people dead, a figure vehemently disputed by Tehran. Amnesty said in its new report it had evidence that at least 23 children were killed, 22 of them by the security forces "unlawfully firing live ammunition at unarmed protesters and bystanders." (Al Jazeera)

03-03-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran has nearly tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium since early November, the United Nations’ atomic agency said, prompting warnings from experts and diplomats that Tehran has slashed the time it would need to amass enough fuel for a nuclear weapon.

Iran has nearly tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium since early November, the United Nations’ atomic agency said Tuesday, prompting warnings from experts and diplomats that Tehran has slashed the time it would need to amass enough fuel for a nuclear weapon. Iran’s growing stockpile of enriched uranium may pose a major test for President Trump ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November. Mr. Trump has vowed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. His administration has imposed harsh sanctions to press Tehran to stop all enrichment of nuclear material and halt its support for militant groups in the Middle East. When the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers took effect in January 2016, U.S. officials estimated that it would take at least a year for Iran to produce sufficient enriched uranium for a single nuclear weapon if it broke out of the agreement. (Wall Street Journal)

03-03-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran risks triggering a new crisis if it does not cooperate with the U.N. nuclear watchdog after failing to answer its questions about past nuclear activities at three sites and denying it access to two of them, its chief said.

Iran risks triggering a new crisis if it does not cooperate with the U.N. nuclear watchdog after failing to answer its questions about past nuclear activities at three sites and denying it access to two of them, its chief said on Tuesday. Rafael Grossi, who took up his post in December, spoke to Reuters in an interview hours after he and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) he heads released a report admonishing Iran. “We have been requesting some information and access from Iran but we haven’t been getting the information we require,” he said. “We have insisted and despite all our efforts we have not been able to get that, so the situation requires on my part such a step because what this means is that Iran is curtailing the ability of the agency to do its work.” (Reuters)

02-28-2020
Terrorism

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett signed an order to seize some $4 million in funds which Israel said were transferred from Iran to Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett signed an order Thursday to seize some $4 million in funds which Israel said were transferred from Iran to Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. The funds were intended to develop Hamas’ infrastructure in Gaza, including the production of weapons as well as payments to the organization’s operatives, the Israeli Defense Ministry said in a statement. The order signed by Bennett targets al-Mutahidoun currency-exchange company owned by Zuheir Shamlakh and his family, it said. The source of the money is “the Iranian government which works against the Israeli state," the statement added. (Asharq al-Awsat)

02-25-2020
Human Rights

An Iranian human rights group reported that a court has sentenced five individuals arrested during November protests to a total of thirty years in prison as well as flogging and exile.

An Iranian human rights group on February 25 reported that a court has sentenced five individuals arrested during November protests to a total of thirty years in prison as well as flogging and exile. Iranian authorities have not officially announced how many were arrested during the protests in November. It is also not clear how many of the arrested protesters are still being held in detention. Some of the protesters, however, have been put on trial in various regions. An overnight three-fold increase in gasoline prices in November 2019 triggered a wave of protests that soon turned into anti-Islamic Republic unrest in 29 out of 31 provinces of Iran. (Radio Farda)

02-24-2020
Military

Iran has sustained its military spending in the face of debilitating US sanctions, a military adviser to the supreme leader has said in a rare interview.

Iran has sustained its military spending in the face of debilitating US sanctions, a military adviser to the supreme leader has said in a rare interview, dismissing the Trump administration’s claims that its maximum pressure strategy has forced Tehran to slash its defence budgets. Iranian officials acknowledge the impact sanctions have had on their economy, which has been plunged into a deep recession as US president Donald Trump has ramped up the pressure on the Islamic republic. But Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan told the Financial Times that Tehran had not “made any cuts to the budgets of our military organisations”. (Financial Times)

02-23-2020
Human Rights

A Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced three people arrested in the heat of anti-government protests last November to death.

A Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced three people arrested in the heat of anti-government protests last November to death. They were sentenced behind closed doors by the notorious ultraconservative judge, Abolqassem Salavati. An Iranian monitoring groups, the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) has named the three as Amir Hossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi, and Saeed Tamjidi. On top of the death penalty, Salavati sentenced Moradi to an extra fifteen years in prison and 74 lashes for the charge of "cooperation in aggravated armed robbery" and one-year imprisonment for "crossing the border unlawfully." Salavati sentenced the other two, Rajabi and Tamjidi, each to ten years jail and 74 lashes for "cooperation in aggravated armed robbery" and one-year imprisonment for "crossing the border unlawfully." (Radio Farda)

02-23-2020
Politics

Iran’s conservatives won a landslide in the country’s parliamentary elections, strengthening hard-liners opposed to diplomacy with the West.

Iran’s conservatives won a landslide in the country’s parliamentary elections, strengthening hard-liners opposed to diplomacy with the West. But a record-low turnout dealt a public rebuke to the establishment’s call for unity in the face of escalating tensions with the U.S. Acknowledging the defeat of nonconservative factions, the moderate President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday called on the new lawmakers to represent not just those who voted but all Iranians. “Regardless of the result and political inclinations of those elected, we thank the people for the sake of their presence,” Mr. Rouhani said, according to the IRNA state news agency. Conservative factions won 221 of the 290 seats in Iran’s legislative assembly, up from 83 in the last elections in 2016, according to Icana, the parliament’s news service. Reformists and moderates lost out, as their tally dropped to 20 seats from 121 in the last elections, after thousands of their candidates were disqualified. Independents won 38 seats, while the share of seats won by women remained unchanged at 17, Icana said. (Wall Street Journal)

02-20-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the United States will sink like the “Titanic,” blaming it on “wealthy Zionist individuals and corporate owners” who he said controlled the US economy.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said the United States will sink like the “Titanic,” blaming it on “wealthy Zionist individuals and corporate owners” who he said controlled the US economy. In a long series of tweets, Khamenei said the strength of the US economy was a “facade” and appeared to quote  progressive Democrats saying that US President Donald Trump was overseeing the transfer of US wealth to a few billionaires. “Today, the epitome of rebellion, arrogance and tyranny is the US government, which is controlled by the wealthy Zionist individuals and corporate owners,” Khamenei tweeted. “In the same way that the glory and splendor of the famous #Titanic ship did not prevent her from sinking, the apparent glory & splendor of the US won’t prevent it from sinking. And, the US will sink,” he said. (Times of Israel)

02-19-2020
Human Rights

Iran's electoral watchdog defended its decision to disqualify thousands of candidates, most of them moderates and reformists, for a parliamentary election in two days, saying it was done in accordance with the law.

Iran's electoral watchdog on Wednesday defended its decision to disqualify thousands of candidates for a parliamentary election in two days, saying it was done in accordance with the law. The Guardian Council, a powerful body that vets candidates for Iranian elections, also said it expected at least 50 percent of registered voters to turn out at Friday's election. Thousands of candidates, most of them moderates and reformists, have been barred from entering the race by the Council, which is dominated by ultra-conservatives. (AFP)

02-19-2020
Syria Conflict

A small instrument inside the drones that targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry and those in the arsenal of Yemen’s Houthi rebels match components recovered in downed Iranian drones in Afghanistan and Iraq, two reports say.

A small instrument inside the drones that targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry and those in the arsenal of Yemen’s Houthi rebels match components recovered in downed Iranian drones in Afghanistan and Iraq, two reports say. These gyroscopes have only been found inside drones manufactured by Iran, Conflict Armament Research said in a report released on Wednesday. That follows a recently released report from the United Nations saying its experts saw a similar gyroscope from an Iranian drone obtained by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, as well as in weapons shipments seized in the Arabian Sea bound for Yemen. The discovery further ties Iran to an attack that briefly halved Saudi Arabia’s oil output and saw energy prices spike by a level unseen since the 1991 Gulf War. It also ties Iran to the arming of the rebel Houthis in Yemen’s long civil war. Iran denies it had a hand in that assault but has increasingly promoted its influence over the Houthis and launched a ballistic missile attack on American troops in Iraq after a U.S. drone strike killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad last month. (The Associated Press)

02-19-2020
Syria Conflict

Iran has developed a new type of antiaircraft missile and shipped it to Houthi rebels in Yemen, Pentagon officials announced.

Iran has developed a new type of antiaircraft missile and shipped it to Houthi rebels in Yemen, Pentagon officials announced Wednesday. The weapons were seized by United States Navy warships in two separate shipments in the Arabian Sea. In a news briefing, Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for Central Command, declined to comment on how the missiles worked. But a military official familiar with the weapons, referred to as 358 missiles, described them as cruise missiles that are designed to avoid United States defensive measures and that can down American military helicopters, as well as the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey. The missiles consist of three parts: two motors and an explosive warhead. The weapon can be assembled after shipment and fired from a crude launcher on the ground. Once the missile is fired and traveling fast enough, a solid-fuel boost motor falls away and a cruise motor takes over; at that point, the weapon flies in a figure-eight pattern and looks for targets. (New York Times)

02-18-2020
Human Rights

Iran sentenced eight environmental activists, including an Iranian who reportedly also has British and American citizenship, to prison sentences ranging from four to 10 years on charges of spying.

Iran sentenced eight environmental activists, including an Iranian who reportedly also has British and American citizenship, to prison sentences ranging from four to 10 years on charges of spying for the United States and acting against Iran’s national security, the judiciary said Tuesday. According to the judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, an appeals court issued the final verdicts. Two of the activists, Morad Tahbaz and Niloufar Bayani, got 10 years each and were ordered to return the money they allegedly received from the U.S. government for their services. (Associated Press)

02-16-2020
Extremism

Iran will refuse to negotiate with the U.S. as long as Washington maintains its campaign of “maximum pressure”—even if President Trump is re-elected, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said.

Iran will refuse to negotiate with the U.S. as long as Washington maintains its campaign of “maximum pressure”—even if President Trump is re-elected, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday. Mr. Rouhani’s defiant remarks solidify Iran’s hard line in a face-off with the Trump administration that only weeks ago brought Washington and Tehran to the brink of war. “It makes no difference who will be the next [American] administration,” Mr. Rouhani said, speaking at a news conference in the Iranian capital. “Iran will never negotiate under pressure.” (Wall Street Journal)

02-14-2020
Terrorism

Facebook has removed two separate networks of fake accounts originating in Iran and Russia, for "engaging in foreign or government interference".

Facebook has removed two separate networks of fake accounts originating in Iran and Russia, for "engaging in foreign or government interference".  The Russian operation, which Facebook linked to the country's military intelligence services, focused primarily on Ukraine and neighbouring countries. The small Iranian operation used accounts and personas on Facebook and Instagram to post content about US politics and the 2020 presidential election. (BBC)

02-13-2020
Syria Conflict

A U.S. Navy warship seized weapons believed to be of Iranian “design and manufacture,” including 150 anti-tank guided missiles and three Iranian surface-to-air missiles, the American military said.

A U.S. Navy warship seized weapons believed to be of Iranian “design and manufacture,” including 150 anti-tank guided missiles and three Iranian surface-to-air missiles, the American military said on Thursday. In a statement, the military said the guided-missile cruiser Normandy boarded a dhow, a traditional sailing vessel, in the Arabian Sea on Sunday. “The weapons seized include 150 ‘Dehlavieh’ anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), which are Iranian-manufactured copies of Russian Kornet ATGMs,” the statement said. (Reuters)

02-10-2020
Military

The U.S. military on Monday disclosed a more than 50% jump in cases of traumatic brain injury stemming from Iran’s missile attack on a base in Iraq last month, with the number of service members diagnosed climbing to over 100.

The U.S. military on Monday disclosed a more than 50% jump in cases of traumatic brain injury stemming from Iran’s missile attack on a base in Iraq last month, with the number of service members diagnosed climbing to over 100. No U.S. troops were killed or faced immediate bodily injury when Iran fired missiles at the Ain al-Asad base in Iraq in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike at the Baghdad airport on Jan. 3. The missile attacks capped a spiral of violence that had started in late December. Both sides have refrained from further military escalation, but the mounting number of U.S. casualties could increase scrutiny on the Trump administration’s approach to Iran. (Reuters)

02-09-2020
Military

Iran unveiled a new short-range missile called Thunder and launched a satellite named Victory which failed to reach orbit.

Iran unveiled a new short-range missile called Thunder on Sunday and launched a satellite named Victory which failed to reach orbit. The developments took place at a time of high tension with the United States, which killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3, prompting an Iranian missile attack on a U.S. base in Iraq. Iranian Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi said the satellite launch had not gone as planned. (Reuters)

02-03-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran’s president said that Tehran might reconsider providing U.N. inspectors with access to Iran’s nuclear facilities if the country were confronted with “a new situation,” the official IRNA news agency reported.

Iran’s president said Monday that Tehran might reconsider providing U.N. inspectors with access to Iran’s nuclear facilities if the country were confronted with “a new situation,” the official IRNA news agency reported. Hassan Rouhani’s remarks came during a meeting with Josep Borrell, the European Union’s new foreign affairs chief, who was on his first visit to Iran since taking office. The visit is seen as the latest move by the EU to save Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. The agreement hangs on a single thread, one that permits international inspection of its atomic sites, and is already threatened. (Associated Press)

01-30-2020
Extremism

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force has issued a message calling for resistance against U.S. President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” and praising the Palestinians for “standing alone” against it.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad is seeking to play a major role against US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century.” At the same time, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force has issued a message calling for resistance against the plan and praising the Palestinians for “standing alone” against it. Iranian media reported on a speech by PIJ leader Khader Habib in Gaza's Deir al-Balah this week, in which he said that the Palestinians must not give up one inch of territory to the “conspiracy” that is Trump’s deal. He also slammed Jews and Zionists. Islamic Jihad claims Jerusalem is a “purely Islamic city” and that all of the land from the “river to the sea” belongs to Palestinians. He argued that the “Deal of the Century” will fail. The first option for PIJ is resistance and to realize national unity. “We will continue to oppose the deal in all its forms, and regain our rights and not surrender to the usurper, the Trump regime.” (Jerusalem Post)

01-28-2020
Terrorism

An Israeli cybersecurity firm said it believes a new strain of ransomware was created by Iran and has the ability to lock up or even delete industrial control systems.

An Israeli cybersecurity firm said it believes a new strain of ransomware was created by Iran and has the ability to lock up or even delete industrial control systems. Tel Aviv-based Otorio, a cybersecurity firm which specializes in industrial control systems (ICS), said that the ransomware called “Snake,” like others of its kind, encrypts programs and documents on infected machines. But it also removes all file copies from infected stations, preventing the victims from recovering encrypted files. Snake, which was recently discovered, searches for hundreds of specific programs -- including many industrial processes that belong to General Electric Co. -- in order to terminate them and allow it to encrypt the files, Otorio said. (Bloomberg)

01-28-2020
Military

Iran is apparently trying to launch a satellite into space despite a string of failures last year and U.S. concerns that the program is acting as a front for ballistic missile development.

Iran is apparently trying to launch a satellite into space despite a string of failures last year and U.S. concerns that the program is acting as a front for ballistic missile development. Images taken from space Sunday appear to show an increase in activity at the Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s Semnan province. The photos, which were annotated by experts at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, show an apparent influx of cars and work activity at a launchpad, suggesting Iran might be repairing the damaged site. The activity depicted in the images has, in the past, signaled an impending launch. (Fox News)

01-28-2020
Nuclear Program

A group of Iranian lawmakers asked parliament to debate a motion for Iran to quit a treaty governing global nuclear arms control, a move apparently aimed at pressuring European powers to salvage Tehran's own 2015 nuclear deal.

A group of Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday asked parliament to debate a motion for Iran to quit a treaty governing global nuclear arms control, a move apparently aimed at pressuring European powers to salvage Tehran's own 2015 nuclear deal. A report on the assembly's news site ICANA said a minimum number of MPs had signed a request to parliament's managers to arrange a debate on the motion for Iran to take the far-reaching step of leaving the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said last week that Iran could withdraw from the NPT if European countries refer the country to the U.N. Security Council over the 2015 deal, a move that would overturn diplomacy in Tehran's turbulent relations with Western powers. (Reuters)

01-27-2020
Terrorism

Israel's Channel 12 reported that cyber-attacks originating from Iran were among the 800 distinct cyber-attacks on Israel's Ben Gurion Airport and planes of world leaders arriving in Israel to attend Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial on 23 January.

Israel's Channel 12 on Sunday reported that cyber-attacks originating from Iran were among the 800 distinct cyber-attacks on Israel's Ben Gurion Airport and planes of world leaders arriving in Israel to attend Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial on 23 January. According to The Times of Israel on Sunday Channel 12 cited officials from the Airports Authority Cyber Division in a report that said last week, when world leaders including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Russian President Vladimir Putin were arriving in Israel to attend the memorial, more than 800 cyber-attacks targeted Israel's international airport and the planes landing there. Channel 12, also known as Keshet 12, is a free-to-air television owned by a media group of the same name. The report said the attacks originated in Iran, China, North Korea, Russia and Poland but since preparations had been made ahead of the momentous event for Israel, the threats were neutralized by Israel's cyber defense, Hercules. (Radio Farda)

01-25-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran has the capacity to enrich uranium at any percentage if Iranian authorities decide to do so, the deputy head of the country’s nuclear agency said in a report posted on its website on Saturday.

Iran has the capacity to enrich uranium at any percentage if Iranian authorities decide to do so, the deputy head of the country’s nuclear agency said in a report posted on its website on Saturday. “At the moment, if (Iranian authorities) make the decision, the Atomic Energy Organization, as the executor, will be able to enrich uranium at any percentage,” Ali Asghar Zarean said. Iran said earlier this month it would scrap limitations on enriching uranium, taking a further step back from commitments to a 2015 nuclear deal with six major powers, but pledged to continue cooperating with the U.N. nuclear watchdog. (Reuters)

01-25-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile has far exceeded the level allowed by its international nuclear deal, an aide to Iran’s nuclear chief said on Saturday.

Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile has far exceeded the level allowed by its international nuclear deal, an aide to Iran’s nuclear chief said on Saturday. Ali Asghar Zarean said that Iran has stockpiled 1,200 kilograms, or about 2,600 pounds, which is well beyond what the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers allowed. “Iran is increasing its stockpile of the enriched uranium with full speed,” he said. The claim has not been verified by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog. (Associated Press)

01-23-2020
Politics

Leaders of Iran's reformist parties say the results of the upcoming parliamentary elections will come as no surprise as nearly all of the well-known reformist candidates have been disqualified by the hardliner-dominated Guardian Council.

Leaders of Iran's reformist parties say the results of the upcoming parliamentary elections will come as no surprise as nearly all of the well-known reformist candidates have been disqualified by the hardliner-dominated Guardian Council. They said at the end of a meeting on Wednesday January 22 that unless there is a meaningful revision in the results of the vetting, reformists have no one to represent them in many constituencies, semi-official news agency ISNA reported on Thursday. From among around 15,000 candidates only 60 low-key reformist figures have been qualified to run for the February 21 election. (Radio Farda)

01-22-2020
Syria Conflict

Iranian-backed Shi’ite factions have exhorted Iraqis to turn out for a “million-strong” march aimed at whipping up anti-American sentiment as the United States’ struggle with Iran plays out on the streets of Baghdad.

Iranian-backed Shi’ite factions have exhorted Iraqis to turn out for a “million-strong” march on Friday aimed at whipping up anti-American sentiment as the United States’ struggle with Iran plays out on the streets of Baghdad. Those behind the rally have two goals in mind - to pressure Washington to pull its troops out of Iraq, and to eclipse the mass anti-government protests that have challenged their grip on power. It is likely to end up at the gates of the U.S. Embassy, the seat of U.S. power in Iraq and the scene of violent clashes last month when militia supporters tried to storm the compound. It could turn nasty again. (Reuters)

01-21-2020
Extremism

An Iranian lawmaker offered a $3 million reward to anyone who killed U.S. President Donald Trump and said Iran could avoid threats if it had nuclear arms, ISNA news agency reported amid Tehran’s latest standoff with Washington.

An Iranian lawmaker offered a $3 million reward to anyone who killed U.S. President Donald Trump and said Iran could avoid threats if it had nuclear arms, ISNA news agency reported on Tuesday amid Tehran’s latest standoff with Washington. U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood dismissed the reward as “ridiculous”, telling reporters in Geneva it showed the “terrorist underpinnings” of Iran’s establishment. Tensions have escalated since Trump in 2018 pulled the United States out of a multilateral 2015 agreement meant to contain Iran’s nuclear program, saying it was flawed, then reimposed heavy U.S. sanctions on Tehran. The standoff erupted into tit-for-tat military strikes earlier this month. (Reuters)

01-20-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran threatened to withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) if European countries bring alleged violations of the historic nuclear deal with world powers to the United Nations Security Council.

Iran threatened to withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) if European countries bring alleged violations of the historic nuclear deal with world powers to the United Nations Security Council. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued the warning on Monday saying the Islamic Republic could take other steps before withdrawing from the NPT, without specifying them. "If the Europeans continue their improper behaviour or send Iran's file to the Security Council, we will withdraw from the NPT," Zarif said in comments carried by Iranian news agencies. (Al Jazeera)

01-19-2020
Military

Iran said that two newly constructed satellites have passed pre-launch tests and will be transported to the nation’s space center for eventual launch, without elaborating.

Iran said Sunday that two newly constructed satellites have passed pre-launch tests and will be transported to the nation’s space center for eventual launch, without elaborating. Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi tweeted about the development, calling it an “important research step.” Iran has not said when it will launch the satellites, but often coordinates its launches with national holidays. It will celebrate the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution next month. (Associated Press)

01-18-2020
Syria Conflict

A missile attack launched by Shiite rebels in Yemen hit an army camp, killing at least 60 troops and injuring dozens of others, Yemeni officials and Saudi state television said.

A missile attack launched by Shiite rebels in Yemen hit an army camp Saturday, killing at least 60 troops and injuring dozens of others, Yemeni officials and Saudi state television said. The strike in the central province of Marib wounded about 10 others. Officials said they expected the death toll to rise as burn victims were rushed to hospitals. Marib lies about 70 miles (115 kilometers) east of the capital, Sanaa. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk to the media. (Associated Press)

01-17-2020
Anti-Americanism

Iran’s supreme leader struck a defiant tone in a rare Friday public sermon, calling the United States an “arrogant power” and telling tens of thousands of chanting worshipers that God’s backing had allowed his country to “slap the face” of the U.S.

Iran’s supreme leader struck a defiant tone in a rare public sermon on Friday, calling the United States an “arrogant power” and telling tens of thousands of chanting worshipers that God’s backing had allowed his country to “slap the face” of the United States. In his first such address in eight years, the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sought to rally supporters and undermine critics after weeks of turbulence in the Middle East that brought Iran and the United States to the brink of war and prompted street protests in Iran over the accidental downing of a civilian jetliner by Iranian forces. Ayatollah Khamenei offered only scant condolences to the families who lost relatives in the crash, and instead sought to project strength. He dismissed protesters as “stooges of the United States,” lauded Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s foreign operations chief who was killed in an American drone strike, and praised a retaliatory Iranian missile attack on United States forces in Iraq. (New York Times)

01-16-2020
Nuclear Program

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said the country is now enriching more uranium than it was before a 2015 deal with world powers that was supposed to scale back its nuclear activities, and in particular enrichment.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday the country is now enriching more uranium than it was before a 2015 deal with world powers that was supposed to scale back its nuclear activities, and in particular enrichment. “We are enriching more uranium than before the deal was reached,” Rouhani said in a televised speech according to the Reuters news agency. “Pressure has increased on Iran but we continue to progress.” Rouhani also said he is working “daily to prevent war” as relations between Tehran and Washington go through a new period of maximum tension. (Times of Israel)

01-16-2020
Terrorism

Two men have been sentenced to prison on charges in connection with working on behalf of the government of Iran to monitor a Jewish center in Chicago and Americans who are members of an exiled Iranian opposition group.

Two men have been sentenced to prison on charges in connection with working on behalf of the government of Iran to monitor a Jewish center in Chicago and Americans who are members of an exiled Iranian opposition group. Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 39, a dual Iranian-U.S. citizen, was sentenced to 38 months in prison on Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington after pleading guilty Oct. 8 to one count of conspiracy and one count of acting as an undeclared agent of the Iranian government. Majid Ghorbani, 60, an Iranian citizen and U.S. permanent resident living in Costa Mesa, Calif., was sentenced to 30 months in prison by Friedman on one count of violating U.S. sanctions by giving photographs to Doostdar that he knew Doostdar would take to Iran, according to court records. (Washington Post)

01-15-2020
Politics

Iran’s president slammed the disqualification of thousands of people, including 90 current lawmakers, from running in upcoming parliamentary elections.

Iran’s president Wednesday slammed the disqualification of thousands of people, including 90 current lawmakers, from running in upcoming parliamentary elections. Although hard-liners were among those disqualified by the powerful Guardian Council, most of those rejected were reformist and moderate candidates, according to Tehran’s reformist newspaper Etemad. President Hassan Rouhani appeared to confirm this in his stinging critique of the council, which barred more than 9,000 from the over 14,000 people who had registered to run. Among them are 90 sitting lawmakers out of some 247 who registered to run for re-election. (Associated Press)

01-15-2020
Human Rights

Iranian social media users reported that warnings issued by intelligence and security forces and heavy riot police presence on the streets has forced students to call off planned rallies in Tehran on the fifth day of protests in the country.

Iranian social media users on Wednesday reported that warning issued by intelligence and security forces and heavy riot police presence on the streets has forced students to call off planned rallies in Tehran on the fifth day of protests in the country. Since early afternoon social media users posted pictures and videos of large groups of security forces and fully-geared riot police around the capital's major universities, describing it as "laying siege to universities". Later on they reported that under heavy pressure students have called off their planned rallies at Tehran and Amir Kabir universities. (Radio Farda)

01-15-2020
Nuclear Program

Israel’s army intelligence says Iran will have enough enriched uranium to produce one nuclear bomb by the end of the year.

Israel’s army intelligence says Iran will have enough enriched uranium to produce one nuclear bomb by the end of the year. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will not let Iran become a nuclear power. Israeli military analysts say that by the end of 2020 Iran will have enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb. The assessment comes after recent tensions between the U.S. and Iran brought them to the brink of war. The United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, and Israeli intelligence officials speculated that Iran would resume its efforts to acquire a nuclear bomb. Israeli army intelligence officials based their calculation on their assessment that it takes 40 kilograms of 90-percent enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb. Iran announced several months ago that it no longer considered itself bound by the nuclear deal and would step up enrichment efforts. (Voice of America)

01-15-2020
Syria Conflict

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said European troops stationed in the Middle East could be in danger, suggesting that a collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal would threaten the region’s stability and security.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said European troops stationed in the Middle East could be in danger, suggesting that a collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal would threaten the region’s stability and security. The remarks come a day after Britain, France and Germany took the first steps toward reimposing sanctions on Iran following the sharp increase in tensions after the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Tehran’s attacks on military bases in Iraq that house U.S. troops. “The American soldier today is not secure. Tomorrow, the European soldier could be insecure too,” Mr. Rouhani told his weekly cabinet meeting, according to Iranian state media Wednesday. “Stop making mistakes!” Mr. Rouhani said. “Return and choose a path that is in favor of the stability and security of the region.” (Wall Street Journal)

01-14-2020
Military

Surveillance video from Iran circulating on social media appears to show two missiles hitting the Ukrainian passenger jet downed over Tehran, fired approximately 30 seconds apart, providing new information about the tragedy that killed 176 people.

Surveillance video from Iran circulating on social media Tuesday appears to show two missiles hitting the Ukrainian passenger jet downed over Tehran, fired approximately 30 seconds apart, providing new information about the tragedy that killed 176 people on the plane. The video was verified by Storyful, a social-media-intelligence company owned by News Corp, parent of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones. It raises new questions about how forthcoming Iranian authorities were when, after three days of denial, they admitted they had mistakenly struck the Ukraine International Airlines flight without mentioning a second missile. It also possibly answers the question of why the Ukrainian airliner’s transponder stopped working before being hit by the missile that apparently brought the jet down last week. (Wall Street Journal)

01-14-2020
Military

Iran’s Tasnim news website close to the Revolutionary Guard has published new photos it claims to show “missile cities”, where “solid fuel” rockets are housed.

Iran’s Tasnim news website close to the Revolutionary Guard has published new photos it claims to show “missile cities”, where “solid fuel” rockets are housed. Tasnim also said that out of 15 missiles fired at U.S. bases in Iraq on January 8, two fell on Iranian territory, apparently due to technical malfunction. The release of photos by Tasnim coincides with the decision of the United Kingdom, France and Germany to trigger the dispute mechanism of the 2015 nuclear deal as a response to Iran gradually reducing its commitments. (Radio Farda)

01-13-2020
Syria Conflict

U.S. commanders at the Iraqi military base targeted by Iranian missiles said they believe the attack was intended to kill American personnel, an act that could have pushed the two powers closer to outright war.

U.S. commanders at the Iraqi military base targeted by Iranian missiles said Monday they believe the attack was intended to kill American personnel, an act that could have pushed the two powers closer to outright war. The missile barrage last week against the sprawling Ain al-Asad air base in western Iraq left deep craters and the crumpled wreckage of living quarters and a helicopter launch site. At least two soldiers were thrown through the window of a meters-high tower, and several dozen U.S. troops were later treated for concussion as a result of the missile strikes, military officials on the base said. "These were designed and organized to inflict as many casualties as possible," said Lt. Col. Tim Garland, commander of Task Force Jazeera and one of the most senior officials on the base that day. (Washington Post)

01-13-2020
Human Rights

Accusations of lethal force against protesters in Iran should be fully investigated, a spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

Accusations of lethal force against protesters in Iran should be fully investigated, a spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday, saying reports of violence against those protesting the downing of a civilian airliner were “worrying.” “We’re obviously following very closely the demonstrations that have been taking place today and over the weekend in Iran and the Secretary-General recalls the rights to freedom of expression and association in peaceful assembly of people,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. Protesters denouncing Iran’s clerical rulers took to the streets and riot police deployed to face them on Monday, in a third day of demonstrations after authorities acknowledged accidentally shooting down a Ukrainian passenger plane. (Reuters)

01-13-2020
Human Rights

Protesters took to the streets of Iran to denounce the country’s clerical rulers and riot police deployed to face them in a third day of demonstrations after authorities acknowledged shooting down a passenger plane by mistake.

Protesters took to the streets of Iran to denounce the country’s clerical rulers and riot police deployed to face them in a third day of demonstrations on Monday after authorities acknowledged shooting down a passenger plane by mistake. Iran’s president called last week’s downing of the Ukrainian plane a “disastrous mistake” on Saturday, and said its air defenses responded in error while on alert after Iran carried out missile strikes on U.S. targets in Iraq. Iranian public anger, rumbling for days after Tehran had repeatedly denied it was to blame for the plane crash, erupted when the military admitted its role. (Reuters)

01-11-2020
Extremism

Students at Iran’s Islamic Azad University are being offered a novel new career choice — suicide terrorist.

Students at Iran’s Islamic Azad University are being offered a novel new career choice — suicide terrorist. Leaflets are being distributed at the influential school urging students to sign up for Jihad missions against the United States and Israel to avenge the death of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. “Registration for volunteers to commit a suicide attack against the United States and Israel,” it blares. “Hard revenge is underway for those criminals who killed Qassem Soleimani.” (New York Post)

01-09-2020
Anti-Americanism

A commander of the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps declared that Iran would soon take “harsher revenge” on the United States for a drone strike last week that killed a top Iranian general.

A day after President Trump backed away from further military conflict with Iran, a commander of the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps declared that Iran would soon take “harsher revenge” on the United States for a drone strike last week that killed a top Iranian general. But another Iranian military leader said his country’s missile attacks targeting Americans in Iraq this week had not been intended to kill anyone. The remarks were just some of the mixed messages put forth by Iranian leaders on Thursday after Iranian missile strikes, which hit two military bases in Iraq housing American troops. On Thursday the commander of the Revolution Guards air force, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, described the strikes on the bases in Iraq as just the beginning of “a major operation” against the United States, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency, but he also noted that the strikes had not aimed to kill anyone. He quickly followed up with the claim that “tens of people were killed and wounded,” a point disputed by American, Iraqi and other international accounts. A senior commander in the Revolutionary Guards, Abdollah Araghi, said on Thursday that Iran’s armed forces would “impose harsher revenge on the enemy in the near future,” according to Tasnim. (New York Times)

01-09-2020
Military

U.S., Canadian and U.K. officials believe that a Ukrainian commercial aircraft that crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran, killing all 176 people on board, was downed by a missile system fired by Iran, possibly by mistake.

U.S., Canadian and U.K. officials believe that a Ukrainian commercial aircraft that crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board, was downed by a missile system fired by Iran, possibly by mistake. “We have a high level of confidence that this was shot down by Iran,” one U.S. official said Thursday. The official said the plane was being tracked moments before it went down by Iranian radar used to aim missiles. A second official said the U.S. believes Iran may have downed the aircraft by mistake. The first official identified the weapon as a Russian-made SA-15 surface-to-air missile system, also referred to as the Gauntlet. Iran disputed the accusation, which a government spokesman called a “big lie.” (Wall Street Journal)

01-08-2020
Terrorism

Hackers looking to breach US computer networks sharply intensified their efforts following the death of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani, but have had limited success, according to internet security researchers and state government officials.

Hackers looking to breach US computer networks sharply intensified their efforts following the death of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani, but have had limited success, according to internet security researchers and state government officials. Soon after the strike that killed Soleimani, Iran-based attempts to hack federal, state and local government websites jumped 50% — and then continued to accelerate, said network security company Cloudflare Over the course of 48 hours, attacks traced to Iranian IP addresses nearly tripled against targets around the world, Cloudflare said, peaking at half a billion attempts per day. (CNN)

01-07-2020
Extremism

Iran has been considering 13 “revenge scenarios” in retaliation for a U.S. strike that killed a top Iranian commander in Iraqi, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shimkani said, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Iran has been considering 13 “revenge scenarios” in retaliation for a U.S. strike that killed a top Iranian commander in Iraqi, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said on Tuesday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. “The Americans should know that until now 13 revenge scenarios have been discussed in the council and even if there is consensus on the weakest scenario carrying it out can be a historic nightmare for the Americans,” Ali Shamkhani said. (Reuters)

01-07-2020
Syria Conflict

Iran retaliated for the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani by firing more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi air bases housing U.S. forces. Washington and Tehran both confirmed that Iran was the source of the missiles.

Iran retaliated for the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani by firing more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi air bases housing U.S. forces on Wednesday local time. Washington and Tehran both confirmed that Iran was the source of the missiles. The extent the damage was unclear. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the strikes were a "slap in the face" to the U.S. and not sufficient retaliation for the killing of Soleimani, a top general, last week. (NBC News)

01-05-2020
Nuclear Program

“Iran’s nuclear program will have no limitations in production, including enrichment capacity,” the Iranian government said in an announcement that seemed to signal the de facto collapse of the 2015 agreement.

The consequences of the American killing of a top Iranian general rippled across the Middle East and beyond on Sunday, with Iran all but abandoning a landmark nuclear agreement and Iraqi lawmakers voting to expel American forces from their country. Steeling for retaliation from Iran, an American-led coalition in Iraq and Syria suspended the campaign it has waged against the Islamic State for years, as hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the street to mourn the general, Qassim Suleimani. “Iran’s nuclear program will have no limitations in production, including enrichment capacity,” the Iranian government said in an announcement Sunday that seemed to signal the de facto collapse of the 2015 agreement. (New York Times)

01-03-2020
Syria Conflict

Iran promised vengeance after a U.S. air strike in Baghdad killed Qassem Soleimani, Tehran’s most prominent military commander and the architect of its growing influence in the Middle East.

Iran promised vengeance after a U.S. air strike in Baghdad on Friday killed Qassem Soleimani, Tehran’s most prominent military commander and the architect of its growing influence in the Middle East. Soleimani, a 62-year-old general who headed the elite Quds Force, was regarded as the second most powerful figure in Iran after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The overnight attack, authorized by President Donald Trump, was a dramatic escalation in a “shadow war” in the Middle East between Iran and the United States and its allies, principally Israel and Saudi Arabia. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the strike aimed to disrupt an “imminent attack” that would have endangered Americans in the Middle East. Democratic critics said the Republican president had raised the risk of more violence in a dangerous region. (Reuters)

12-31-2019
Anti-Americanism

Iran-backed militiamen and their supporters protesting against deadly U.S. air strikes on Iraq hurled stones and torched a security post at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in an unprecedented attack on an American diplomatic mission in the country.

Militiamen and their supporters protesting against deadly U.S. air strikes on Iraq hurled stones and torched a security post at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday in an unprecedented attack on an American diplomatic mission in the country. Embassy guards responded with stun grenades and tear gas after the attackers stormed and burned the security post at the entrance but did not breach the main compound. The incident marked a sharp escalation of the proxy conflict between Washington and Tehran - both influential players in Iraq - while mass protests are challenging Iraq’s own political system nearly 17 years after the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. It comes after months of security incidents in the region for which both sides have traded blame. (Reuters)

12-27-2019
Military

China, Russia and Iran began a four-day joint military exercise in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman amid ongoing friction in the economically important region between Tehran and Washington.

China, Russia and Iran began a four-day joint military exercise in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman on Friday amid ongoing friction in the economically important region between Tehran and Washington. The Gulf of Oman has been a focal point of geopolitical tensions in 2019, after two oil tankers were attacked in the narrow strait in June by an unidentified party. The US blamed Iran for the attack but Tehran denied the allegations. Then in July, Iran detained a British oil tanker, the Stena Impero, for two months. The vessels planned to leave Iran's Chabahar port in the Gulf of Oman, before being deployed across areas in the north of the Indian Ocean, Second Rear Admiral Gholamreza Tahani said earlier, according to Iran's state-run Press TV. (CNN)

12-27-2019
Syria Conflict

A U.S. civilian contractor was killed in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, U.S. officials said, alleging that the Iran-backed militia Kata’ib Hezbollah was behind the attack.

A U.S. civilian contractor was killed in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk on Friday, U.S. officials said. Several U.S. service members and Iraq personnel were also wounded, the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State said in a statement, adding that Iraqi security forces would be leading the response and investigation into the incident. U.S. officials said, on condition of anonymity, that the service members were lightly wounded and believed to be back on duty. (Reuters)

12-23-2019
Human Rights

The United States has confirmed a news report citing unnamed Iranian officials as saying about 1,500 people were killed in a crackdown by security forces on anti-government protests last month.

The United States has confirmed a news report citing unnamed Iranian officials as saying about 1,500 people were killed in a crackdown by security forces on anti-government protests last month. In a report published Monday, London-based Reuters said it obtained the death toll from three Iranian interior ministry officials who said the fatalities included "at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women as well as some members of the security forces and police." In a Monday tweet, the State Department quoted U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook as saying the Reuters report "underscores the urgency for the international community to punish the perpetrators and isolate the regime for the murder of 1,500 Iranian citizens." (VOA)

12-20-2019
Human Rights

Iran's Prosecutor General announced that "many of those detained" in the November protests across Iran have been indicted and their trials will begin next week.

Iran's Prosecutor General announced that "many of those detained" in the November protests across Iran have been indicted and their trials will begin next week. Mohammad Jafar Montazeri also said those who "could be freed" have already been released from prison. Iran has so far refused to disclose the number of the detainees or give any information about hundreds who were killed by the security forces' heavy-handed response to the protesters. Based on Radio Farda's data, at least 8,000 people were arrested in different cities across Iran between November 15, when the protests broke out, and December 5. Since then hundreds of more arrests have taken place. (Radio Farda)

12-19-2019
Human Rights

While 70 countries improved their human freedom ranking in the past year, Iran remained in the 154th place among the 162 countries in the Human Freedom Index (HFI).

While 70 countries improved their human freedom ranking in the past year, Iran remained in the 154th place among the 162 countries in the Human Freedom Index (HFI). The index which measures personal, civil and economic freedom at a global level, covers areas such as rule of law, security and safety, size of government, property rights, religion, civil society and expression. The HFI also found a strong relationship between human freedom and democracy and said Hong Kong is an outlier in this regard. The index which is the most comprehensive freedom index so far created for a globally meaningful set of countries covers 162 countries for 2017, the most recent year for which sufficient data are available. (Radio Farda)

12-19-2019
Nuclear Program

Iran President Hassan Rouhani said his country's nuclear experts have begun the testing of new, advanced IR-9 centrifuges for uranium enrichment, marking yet another violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran President Hassan Rouhani said his country's nuclear experts have begun the testing of new, advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment, marking yet another violation of the 2015 nuclear deal. Rouhani spoke to Iranian expats during a meeting Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, about the success of Iran’s current centrifuge model and the testing of a new prototype, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. “We have had great achievements and today, Iranian new IR-6 centrifuges are working and models IR-9 are currently being tested,” Rouhani is quoted as saying. The testing of new centrifuges for uranium enrichment is just Iran’s latest step away from its atomic accord with world powers since President Trump pulled America out of the 2015 nuclear deal. (Fox News)

12-18-2019
Human Rights

More than a month after the start of the latest round of anti-government protests in Iran, security forces are still arresting people in various cities, registering at least 650 new arrests in recent days.

More than a month after the start of the latest round of anti-government protests in Iran, security forces are still arresting people in various cities. The Police Chief in Kermanshah, Ali Akbar Javidan said on Wednesday December 18 that 250 more protesters have been arrested in that city. Elsewhere in Iran officials broke the news on Tuesday about more than 400 other arrests in Alborz Province near Tehran, as well as Khuzestan and Fars Provinces in the south. Although arbitrary arrests continue, there is still no official figure about the number of those detained during and after the protests that started on November 15 following a sudden three-fold rise in the price of gasoline. (Radio Farda)

12-16-2019
Human Rights

At least 304 people have been killed in Iran during anti-government unrest that broke out last month, Amnesty International said.

At least 304 people have been killed in Iran during anti-government unrest that broke out last month, Amnesty International said on Tuesday. Thousands have been arrested including children as young as 15 in a crackdown that followed the protests, London-based Amnesty said in a statement. “At least 304 people were killed and thousands were injured between 15 and 18 November as Iranian authorities crushed protests using lethal force,” it said. Amnesty said earlier this month that at least 208 were killed in the protests. Iranian authorities have dismissed Amnesty’s previous figures and have yet to give a death toll from the deadliest protests In Iran in decades. (Reuters)

12-11-2019
Syria Conflict

A senior U.S. military official said attacks by Iranian-backed groups on bases hosting U.S. forces in Iraq were gathering pace and becoming more sophisticated, pushing all sides closer to an uncontrollable escalation.

A senior U.S. military official said on Wednesday attacks by Iranian-backed groups on bases hosting U.S. forces in Iraq were gathering pace and becoming more sophisticated, pushing all sides closer to an uncontrollable escalation. His warning came two days after four Katyusha rockets struck a base near Baghdad international airport, wounding five members of Iraq’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service. It was the latest in a spate of rocket strikes in the past five weeks on military installations hosting members of the U.S.-led coalition whose objective is to defeat Islamic State insurgents. The official said the attacks were jeopardizing the coalition’s ability to combat Islamic State insurgents. (Reuters)

12-10-2019
Military

President Hassan Rouhani’s administration announced Tuesday that two billion euros ($2.22 billion) will be taken from Iran's National Development Fund and given to the military, boosting its budget by 8 percent in the next Iranian calendar year.

President Hassan Rouhani’s administration announced Tuesday that two billion euros ($2.22 billion) will be taken from Iran's National Development Fund and given to the military, boosting its budget by 8 percent in the next Iranian calendar year. Iran is in the grip of a deep recession with a 9 percent contraction this year and faces serious problems with earning hard currency for vital imports. Last month, the government raised the price of gasoline, sparking mass protests that were crushed with killing at least 208 protesters and possibly many more. Security forces have jailed 8,000 protesters. The Rouhani government’s announcement is seen as a possible reaction to hardliners in Iran complaining that the budget of the military has slightly decreased in the proposed budget. (Radio Farda)

12-10-2019
Syria Conflict

Iran is building an underground tunnel in Eastern Syria to store missiles and large-scale weapons, according to satellite images obtained by Fox News and Western intelligence sources who reviewed the information.

Iran is building an underground tunnel to store missiles and large-scale weapons, according to satellite images obtained by Fox News and Western intelligence sources who reviewed the information. The structure, housed within the Imam Ali military base in Eastern Syria, is estimated to be nearly 400 feet long, 15 feet wide and 13 feet deep. The first image--taken by Image Sat International (ISI), an end-to-end geospatial intelligence solutions company, where construction of the tunnel can be seen--was captured on Oct. 5. Two weeks later, a shed was used to hide the tunnel entrance from the air. Large dirt piles appeared at the opposite end of the tunnel as excavations continue. (Fox News)

12-09-2019
Syria Conflict

Four rockets landed inside the Baghdad international airport, U.S. military officials have told Fox News, blaming Iran and its proxy forces for the attack.

Four rockets landed inside the Baghdad international airport Sunday night, U.S. military officials have told Fox News, blaming Iran and its proxy forces for the attack. The rockets hit a building called the Diplomatic Support Center, located on the opposite side of the airport from the civilian runway and passenger terminal where U.S. military personnel are present.  The rockets landed between 100 and 400 yards away from American troops and civilians, one official said. Five Iraq soldiers were wounded by shrapnel, the officials said.  It’s not clear how severe the injuries were. (Fox News)

12-09-2019
Human Rights

Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, announced plans to replace the country’s internet with a state-run intranet, granting the government increased control over online activity.

Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, announced plans to replace the country’s internet with a state-run intranet, granting the government increased control over online activity. The announcement comes shortly after the Iranian government quelled mass protests by cutting off internet access across the country, CNET reports. With its own state-controlled network, Iran would be able to nip future protests in the bud by rapidly identifying dissidents and cutting them off from one another — a disturbing blow against online freedom and privacy. Rouhani framed the announcement as a matter of national autonomy, according to CNET. He told Parliament that “people will not need foreign [networks] to meet their needs,” and that the decision came straight down from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, his superior within the federal government. (Futurism)

12-05-2019
Syria Conflict

More than a dozen people have been stabbed in a Baghdad square that has become a focal point for anti-government and anti-Iran protests after supporters of an Iranian-backed militia flooded the area.

More than a dozen people have been stabbed in a Baghdad square that has become a focal point for anti-government and anti-Iran protests after supporters of an Iranian-backed militia flooded the area. Thousands of men waving sticks, Iraqi flags and the insignia of the Hashd al-Shaabi armed group descended on Tahrir Square on Thursday morning in apparently coordinated marches from across the capital. Anti-government protesters who have been occupying the square for several weeks, some of whom are critical of Iranian influence in the country, said at least 15 people were stabbed before the militia-linked marchers withdrew by the late afternoon. (The Guardian)

12-05-2019
Human Rights

An investigation carried out by Radio Farda shows that around 8,000 protesters have been jailed following the protests that started on November 15 after a sudden three-fold hike in the price of gasoline.

Three weeks after the start of anti-government protests in Iran there are still conflicting reports on the number of arrests made by security forces. A member of the Iranian Parliament Hossein Naqavi Hosseini put the number at 7,000 as one of the official accounts. Iranian Judiciary officials have refused to provide any figures. It appears that they will announce the number after releasing most prisoners on bail, so that the number could be smaller and less embarrassing. As the usual practice in previous cases of major unrest in Iran has shown, the officials free the inmates with lesser charges on hefty bails and summon them to court later gradually. An investigation carried out by Radio Farda shows that around 8,000 protesters have been jailed following the protests that started on November 15 after a sudden three-fold hike in the price of gasoline. The protests quickly turned into anti-government demonstrations that were met by gunfire by security forces killing at least 208. (Radio Farda)

12-05-2019
Nuclear Program

Iran rejected pressure to shelve its ballistic missile program after a European letter to the U.N. Security Council accused Tehran of developing missiles capable of delivering nuclear bombs.

Iran on Thursday rejected pressure to shelve its ballistic missile program after a European letter to the U.N. Security Council accused Tehran of developing missiles capable of delivering nuclear bombs. The British, German and French ambassadors to the Council, in a letter circulated on Wednesday, called on U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to tell the body in his next report that Iran’s missile program was “inconsistent” with a U.N. resolution underpinning the 2015 nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers. Iran responded defiantly, saying it was determined to proceed with its missile program, which it has repeatedly described as defensive in purpose and nothing to do with its nuclear activity. “Iran is determined to resolutely continue its activities related to ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles,” Iranian U.N. envoy Majid Takhte Ravanchi said in a letter to Guterres. (Reuters)

12-04-2019
Syria Conflict

A U.S. Navy warship seized advanced missile parts believed to be linked to Iran from a boat it had stopped in the Arabian Sea, U.S. officials said, as Trump’s administration pressures Tehran to curb its activities in the region.

A U.S. Navy warship seized advanced missile parts believed to be linked to Iran from a boat it had stopped in the Arabian Sea, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, as Trump’s administration pressures Tehran to curb its activities in the region. In a statement, the Pentagon confirmed that on Nov. 25 a U.S. warship found “advanced missile components” on a stateless vessel and an initial investigation indicated the parts were of Iranian origin. “A more thorough investigation is underway,” the statement said. U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the guided missile destroyer Forrest Sherman detained a small boat and a detachment of U.S. personnel boarded the vessel, where the missile parts were found. (Reuters)

12-04-2019
Terrorism

Iran’s state-sponsored hackers have deployed a new strain of malicious malware, warns IBM, which has been aimed at the “industrial and energy sectors” in the Middle East.

Iran’s state-sponsored hackers have deployed a new strain of malicious malware, warns IBM, which has been aimed at the “industrial and energy sectors” in the Middle East. No specific companies have been identified, but there’s no surprise in the nature of the attack. For Iran, its ongoing hybrid conflict with the U.S. and its allies has made these sectors a target. IBM has attributed the latest “destructive attacks” to Iran’s hyperactive APT34 “and at least one other group, [also] likely based out of Iran.” APT34 has hit the headlines a few times this year, including with a phishing attack using LinkedIn. But it’s the identity of that “one other group” that’s arguably more interesting. The sectoral targets and use of wiper malware points towards Iran’s APT33, arguably the best known of its threat actors. This is the group behind the Microsoft Outlook exploit in July, prompting a U.S. government warning, and which deployed its own VPN to veil “aggressive attacks” on U.S. and Middle East targets in the oil and gas sector. APT33 was also behind the infamous 2012 Shamoon attack on Saudi Aramco, an attack which erased the data on most of the company’s computers. (Forbes)

12-04-2019
Human Rights

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani claimed in a speech that some of the protesters who took to the streets across Iran in November had been "organized" by forces outside the country and promised Iranians that their "confessions will be aired" soon.

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani claimed in a speech on Wednesday that some of the protesters who took to the streets across Iran in November had been "organized" by forces outside the country and promised Iranians that their "confessions will be aired" soon. Speaking at a seminar at Tehran's Milad Tower the Iranian President alleged that these groups had been planning "for more than two years" to incite unrest during parliamentary elections (February 21) but took action sooner "by the order of their masters abroad" when protests against gasoline price hike gave them the opportunity. At the same time, Rouhani proposed to free all those detainees who were ordinary protesters, simply shouting slogan or “burning tires”. (Radio Farda)

12-04-2019
Syria Conflict

Iran has used the continuing chaos in Iraq to build up a hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq, part of a widening effort to try to intimidate the Middle East and assert its power.

Iran has used the continuing chaos in Iraq to build up a hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq, part of a widening effort to try to intimidate the Middle East and assert its power, according to American intelligence and military officials. The buildup comes as the United States has rebuilt its military presence in the Middle East to counter emerging threats to American interests, including attacks on oil tankers and facilities that intelligence officials have blamed on Iran. The missiles pose a threat to American allies and partners in the region, and could endanger American troops, the intelligence officials said. (New York Times)

12-03-2019
Human Rights

Iran acknowledged for the first time that its security forces shot and killed protesters across the country to put down demonstrations last month over the sharply spiking price of gasoline.

Iran acknowledged for the first time Tuesday that its security forces shot and killed protesters across the country to put down demonstrations last month over the sharply spiking price of gasoline, the deadliest unrest to hit the country since the turmoil of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. A report by Iranian state television sought to portray those killed as “rioters” or foreign-backed insurgents who threatened military posts, oil tanks and the public. It acknowledged that the violence also killed passers-by, security forces and peaceful protesters without assigning blame. However, online videos of demonstrations purport to show security forces firing machine guns and rifles at crowds. Amnesty International believes the unrest beginning in mid-November and crackdown that followed killed at least 208 people. An Iranian judiciary official disputed the toll Tuesday as “sheer lies,” without offering any evidence to support his position. (Associated Press)

12-03-2019
Human Rights

Videos showing harrowing scenes of bleeding protesters, burning roadblocks and snipers on rooftops have emerged after Iran lifted a near-total internet blackout, opening a window onto what analysts say was one of Tehran's bloodiest crackdowns.

Videos showing harrowing scenes of bleeding protesters, burning roadblocks and snipers on rooftops have emerged after Iran lifted a near-total internet blackout, opening a window onto what analysts say was one of Tehran's bloodiest crackdowns. This repression "was harsher" than during previous protests in Iran, Kamran Matin, senior lecturer in International Relations at Sussex University in Britain, told AFP in Nicosia. "All the videos I have seen from before the internet was shut down show that from the moment of the gathering of people to 'shoot to kill' was very short." (Asharq Al-Awsat)

12-03-2019
Syria Conflict

There is fresh intelligence of a potential Iranian threat against US forces and interests in the Middle East, according to several US defense and administration officials.

There is fresh intelligence of a potential Iranian threat against US forces and interests in the Middle East, according to several US defense and administration officials. "There has been consistent intelligence in the last several weeks," one administration official told CNN A second official described it as information that has been gathered throughout November. The information is being gathered by military and intelligence agencies The officials would not say in what format the intelligence exists. But in the last several weeks there has been movement of Iranian forces and weapons that the US worries could be put in place for a potential attack, if one is ordered by the Iranian regime, the officials said. It's not clear if a potential threat would come from the central government or Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. (CNN)

12-02-2019
Anti-Americanism

An Iranian general has warned that Iran’s missile arsenals are aimed at 21 American military bases in the Middle East and the country is prepared for “the greatest war against the greatest enemy.”

An Iranian general has warned that Iran’s missile arsenals are aimed at 21 American military bases in the Middle East and the country is prepared for “the greatest war against the greatest enemy.” In a November 29 speech, at an event in the southern city of Bushehr commemorating 40 years since the establishment of the Basij paramilitary force, Gen. Allahnoor Noorollahi also said that Iran had the ability to raze Haifa and Tel Aviv to the ground. Noorollahi serves as a top adviser to the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Officers College. His speech was broadcast on Bushehr TV, and was reported on and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute. (Times of Israel)

12-02-2019
Human Rights

Two weeks after the deadliest anti-regime protests in the four-decade history of the Islamic Republic, there are several reports on the "grave condition" of detained protesters, especially underage and child prisoners.

Two weeks after the deadliest anti-regime protests in the four-decade history of the Islamic Republic, there are several reports on the "grave condition" of detained protesters, especially underage and child prisoners. Citing "informed sources" in Sanandaj, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network KHRN reported that more than 100 of the detained protesters are held under grueling conditions in a military base run by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). There are also several underage and schoolchildren among the detainees; the sources told KHRN. Furthermore, the Kurdish human rights organization, Hengaw, reported that the Islamic Republic intelligence agents detained three under-eighteen-year-old brothers in Kermanshah, western Iran. The family of the detainees have no information about the condition and whereabouts of their loved ones, Hengaw said. The brothers have been identified as Mohammad Naderi's sons, fourteen-year-old Sajjad, sixteen-year-old Parham, and eighteen-year-old Pouria Naderi. (Radio Farda)

11-25-2019
Syria Conflict

Iranian officials looking to hit back at the U.S. over crippling e